Giannis Antetokounmpo has risen to the challenge.
In 2017, the late great Kobe Bryant had just retired to end his storied NBA career, spending his spare time tweeting “challenges” to the next generation of athletes.
Antetokounmpo, feeling left out, tweeted at Bryant, asking the basketball icon to offer a challenge. . .
. . . to which Bryant replied:
Bryant’s first challenge to Antetokounmpo was to win an NBA MVP award, which Giannis did after the 2018-19 season. He won it again for good measure in 2020. But the Bucks’ playoff streaks in those years didn’t result in championship rings; they were sent off in the Eastern Conference finals and Eastern Conference semifinals, respectively, those years.
To that end, the next level of Bryant’s challenge to Antetokounmpo was a bit more difficult: winning a championship. Giannis and the Bucks did just that Tuesday night with a 105-98 victory over the Suns in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals.
And to make sure he didn’t complete the challenge cheaply, Antetokounmpo was named Finals MVP after scoring 50 points in Game 6, only the seventh 50-point performance in NBA Finals history.
Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020, is not around to see Antetokounmpo face his challenges, but you can bet he would be delighted by that.
However, you can bet that Kobe’s next challenge would have been “Three mob”. That might be too Herculean for the “Greek monster.”