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Giannis Antetokounmpo calls Lakers’ LeBron James the greatest player of all time

Published by
Jesse Cinquini

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James recently got major praise from Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and point guard Damian Lillard.

First, Antetokounmpo said that he believes James is the greatest basketball player ever.

“Some guys might say he is No. 2, but other guys like me, I say he is No. 1, and he’s still going,” Antetokounmpo said.

Also, Lillard believes that folks will appreciate James’ longevity even more once he is retired.

“I think people will look back at that body of work over 20 years or however long it’s been, and when it’s over with, I think they’ll have more respect,” Lillard said. “For the guys who are in it like I am, and the rest of us who do this job, got to put our bodies through it and got to deal with the pressure and have to perform and all of these things to go along with our personal lives, I think people like us respect it.

“But when it’s over, what I think you guys, fans that just have watched, will respect him more later.”

Finally, Antetokounmpo said that James has set a great example for other athletes.

“For 21 years, you never get in trouble, to be able to take in his family, protect this family, raise his kids the right way, you know, be happily married, all those things, it’s perfect,” he said. “He’s kind of like setting the blueprint for the rest of us to go forward. That’s what I want. I want to be able to do what I do on the court consistently, be good, be healthy, be available for my team, be able to, you know, raise my family in a bubble away from what I do on the court for them to have a normal life as much as I can. Stay out of trouble.

“And hopefully one day, you know, when I’m done from the game of basketball…maybe you mention me? I don’t know. But he sets up the blueprint for all the athletes that enter the NBA to follow.”

Antetokounmpo has played all 10 of his seasons in the NBA with the Bucks after the team selected him with the No. 15 overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. He averaged 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game across 63 appearances with the Bucks during the 2022-23 regular season. The 28-year-old also shot 55.3 percent from the field and 64.5 percent from the free-throw line.

The forward’s gaudy numbers last season earned him the seventh All-Star appearance of his pro career along with a spot on the All-NBA First Team.

Meanwhile, Lillard is entering his 12th season in the NBA and first with the Bucks after spending the first 11 seasons of his pro career as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise. He averaged 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game in 58 games played with the Trail Blazers during the 2022-23 regular season.

Lillard was dealt to the Bucks in a three-team trade that landed the Trail Blazers Deandre Ayton, Jrue Holiday (who was subsequently traded to the Boston Celtics), Toumani Camara, a 2029 first-round pick and two first-round pick swaps.

It’s classy from Antetokounmpo and Lillard to praise James’ storied NBA career. But James still has a lot left in the tank, as evidenced by his excellent numbers with the Lakers last season.

Jesse Cinquini

Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.

Published by
Jesse Cinquini

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