Kobe Bryant’s career in the NBA has officially come to an end after 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant heads into retirement this summer after an incredible 60-point performance in his final game and about five months of a farewell tour around the league.
Along with all the tributes videos and gifts over the past few months, Bryant also had an unforgettable send off on April 13 which is now dubbed ‘Mamba Day.’ Athletes, celebrities, and many of Bryant’s former teammates and coaches paid tribute to the superstar on the final day of his basketball career with some of his peers hoping for the same treatment when they walk away from the game.
In a recent interview with Marcel Mutoni of SLAM, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks talked about wanting a ‘Mamba Day’ of his own in 20 years time:
“Hopefully. That was what everyone’s been working for, for them to extend me. Hopefully, I stay here 20 years and I get my Greek Freak Day like Kobe [Bryant].”
Antetokounmpo has been a player on the rise the last couple of seasons in Milwaukee and took his game to another level this year under head coach Jason Kidd. Giannis has played so well that he’s perked Bryant’s interest.
Kobe was asked about Antetokounmpo earlier in the 2015-16 NBA season and said he gave the up-and-comer some advice, via Aron Yohannes of SB Nation’s Brew Hoop:
“I said listen man, it’s just a choice you’re going to have to make. If you want to be that great player, then you’re going to have to make certain sacrifices and go after it.” Bryant said. “He has the potential to do it. He has the physical tools, the intelligence. Now it’s just a matter of believing in himself and going after it. He has the talent to be a great player.”
Although the Bucks failed to return to the playoffs this season, Milwaukee is a team that could be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jabari Parker have proven to be talented young players the franchise can build around moving forward.
Antetokounmpo has a long way to go before reaching Bryant’s level of success, but it’ll be interesting to see where he can go from here on out after his breakout season.