When the Milwaukee Bucks went to Crypto.com Arena to face the Los Angeles Lakers on the day of the NBA’s trade deadline, LeBron James was unable to play due to his ongoing ankle injury. Giannis Antetokounmpo led his team to a victory over the short-handed Lakers.
But behind the scenes, Antetokounmpo praised James yet again, as he has done frequently during the prime of his career. The Bucks superstar has often referred to James as the best player in the league, even as James entered his late 30s and players like Antetokounmpo himself began rising up the ranks.
Last week, Antetokounmpo spoke to James in the tunnels of Crypto.com Arena, complimenting him for the history he made in the game prior — breaking the NBA’s all-time scoring record — and telling him that he set the blueprint for anyone that hopes to be an all-time great.
The video of this moment surfaced earlier this week ahead of All-Star Weekend, via NBACentral:
Giannis giving LeBron his flowers ❤️ pic.twitter.com/WL7YuO0yvO
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) February 17, 2023
The NBA is definitely happy to see two of their biggest stars have such mutual respect for one another. Although a rivalry is always fun, seeing this type of relationship between James and Antetokounmpo is absolutely good for the league.
James and Antetokounmpo have always shared public praise back and forth, especially as the two have faced off as All-Star Captains multiple times. They’ll do so again on Sunday night at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, where James hopes to become 6-0 as a captain.
He is already 2-0 against Antetokounmpo, defeating his drafted team in both 2019 and 2020. The two will draft their teams on Sunday night ahead of All-Star Weekend’s main event. Antetokounmpo also won the 2021 All-Star Game MVP as a member of Team LeBron.
Antetokounmpo sets goal for All-Star Game
Following the Bucks’ final game before the All-Star break, Antetokounmpo was asked about his goal for this year’s All-Star Game. He kept it simple, saying that his only goal is to avoid going 0-3 against James and be the first captain to defeat his team since the new All-Star format was introduced.
Back in 2019, Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 178-164 with Kevin Durant taking home All-Star MVP honors. In 2020, the first year the All-Star Game adopted the Elam Ending, Team LeBron came away with a thrilling 157-155 victory as Anthony Davis made the game-winning free throws to end it.
The All-Star Game has reached a new level of competitiveness in recent years and while it is still an exhibition overall, Giannis and LeBron will be gunning for that victory.
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