Kobe Bryant’s spirit still lives on the hardwood.
Before his untimely death in a helicopter crash in January of 2020, Bryant was retired but made sure he was available to some of the young, budding talent in the NBA. He also made sure to give props to the 20-somethings when they accomplished big feats– and that includes Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In Kobe fashion, Antetokounmpo not only led his team to an NBA championship but stepped up to the challenge by scoring 50 points in a Game 6. The Greek Freak celebrated by acknowledging a challenge that the late great Hall Of Famer gave back in August 2017. Antetokounmpo said he was waiting for his challenge, so Kobe simply responded on Twitter, saying, “MVP.”
In 2019 Antetokounmpo was awarded the NBA’s Most Valuable player, so Bryant gave him an even bigger challenge: to win a ring.
“My man….M.V.P. Greatness. Next up: Championship. #MambaMentality,” he tweeted.
Well, now that the 26-year-old is bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy to Milwaukee for the first time since 1971, he recalled the Twitter conversation after the championship game.
“I didn’t think he was going to respond to me. But when he did, he made me believe. I’m like, ‘Kobe Bryant thinks I can do this? I can play at a high level and lead my team and win MVP?’ I had to do it,” he said while he clutched both trophies.“I had to work hard. And not necessarily not to let him down. I had to work hard because people believed that I could do it, and that’s the thing.”
The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98 after initially losing the first two games in the series. Antetokounmpo –with the help of Khris Middleton– would then go on a streak to win the next four games.
Twitter saluted the Bucks for the big win: