Giannis Antetokounmpo admits he was never close with Kobe Bryant, but he believes his mindset is similar.
“I will never say this, I will never disrespect the name of the great Kobe. I don’t like mentioning him,” Antetokounmpo told The Athletic when asked to compare their mentalities. “I feel like he should be mentioned, should never be forgotten. But I don’t like mentioning his name to bring attention to the conversation that we are about to have. I wasn’t close to him. I wasn’t this with him or that with him. But I would say this, in some areas of his mindset, I think we’re very similar.”
In 2018 at the All-Star Game, Antetokounmpo sought out a conversation with Bryant and subsequently worked out with him that next offseason.
“I might not be as talented as him, but when we’re talking about a guy that worked extremely hard from his first day until he retired. A guy that plays to win, a guy that pushes himself to the limit, a guy that has a killer mentality when he steps on the court,” Antetokounmpo said, as he started to recount that workout. “It’s almost like having — I think he had two personalities.
“Like when we were on the sideline and we were talking and I was taking notes, laughing smiling, joking around, talking. But when we stepped on the court, It was like motherf—er didn’t even know me. ‘I thought you were like my friend.’ Again. Again. Again. Again. ‘My bad, Kobe. How many more times are we gonna do it?’ Twenty-five. ‘OK, 25.’ No, 25 makes. Twenty-five makes on the same move?’ And it’s not like you’re just shooting. You’re going hard. I was like, damn, this guy is different.”