- Aaron Gash/AP
Giannis Antetokounmpo has become one of the NBA’s brightest stars under the tutelage of head coach Jason Kidd.
However, Antetokounmpo didn’t always hold his head coach in such high regard, particularly after being benched during his second season.
In a profile of Antetokounmpo from Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, Antetokounmpo said he was not pleased when Kidd mysteriously removed him from the lineup for a game, in what turned out to be an effort to motivate him.
According to Jenkins, Antetokounmpo was “irate,” with the benching, saying he decided to research Kidd’s NBA career afterward. The results led him to a great revelation.
“I was like, ‘Let’s see what this guy did in his career, anyway,'” Antetokounmpo told Jenkins. “I saw Rookie of the Year, NBA championship, USA Olympic gold medal, second [all-time] in assists, fifth in made threes, blah, blah, blah. I was like, ‘Jesus freaking Christ, how can I compete with that? I better zip it.'”
According to Jenkins, Antetokounmpo can’t be blamed for being unaware of Kidd’s career achievements. Antetokounmpo grew up in Greece to a poor family and often hustled on the streets, selling items to tourists for money. Antetokounmpo did not grow up watching players like Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, as many other stars did.
Now, Antetokounmpo, who looks like a lock for an All-Star nod this year, may be the type of player the next generation of NBA stars grows up watching. And it doesn’t seem like he doubts Kidd’s directions any longer.