During the summer of 2017, a recently-retired Kobe Bryant began dolling out challenges to various athletes that he wanted them to complete. He challenged Isaiah Thomas, who had just been traded to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving deal, to make the All-NBA first team via a post on Instagram. He challenged Richard Sherman to break the Seattle Seahawks single-season interception record. And he challenged DeMar DeRozan to “rekindle a lost friendship from your youth in Compton.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo was feeling a little left out, so he tweeted Bryant saying that he was still waiting for his own unique challenge from the Black Mamba. Bryant challenged him to go win MVP.
Two years later, Antentokounmpo was named MVP at the NBA Awards in Santa Monica, officially completing the challenge Bryant gave him. The Greek Freak averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and six assists during the 2018-2019 season, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors. The Bucks first round playoff win over the Detroit Pistons was their first series win since 2001.
Antetokounmpo also spent time with Bryant over the summer, as he and Kawhi Leonard helped teach at Bryant’s girl’s youth basketball camp. Bryant’s next challenge to Antetokounmpo? An NBA championship.