The first thing you notice about 19-year-old rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo is his insanely long name. Next, his incredible size and wingspan catches your eye (he reportedly has a 7’3″ wingspan and is currently over 6’10” in height, though he was 6’9″ in June when the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him and is expected to reach 7-feet by the time he’s done growing). Finally, you recognize his game.
However, when “The Greek Freak” made his first trip to Los Angeles on New Years Eve, the first thing the rook noticed was The Black Mamba.
In a blog post by Antetokounmpo that was translated and posted by Brew Hoop, the rookie seemed disappointed that he wasn’t able to face Kobe Bryant due to his fractured left knee, though he claims that the Mamba still “had that killer look” despite sitting on the bench in street clothes:
[pullquote]One very beautiful moment for me was when we traveled to L.A. to play against the Lakers. Unfortunately, Kobe did not play since he was injured again. From the second I set foot in Staples Center I was looking for him. I wanted to see how he looks like from up close. How tall is he, how he moves. We are talking about one of the best players of all time. When the game started, in a timeout, I saw him on the bench. He had that killer
look, even though he was in his ‘civilian’ clothes on the bench. I also have that look! Nah, kidding![/pullquote]
For any rookie, going to Los Angeles for the first time and facing Kobe Bryant’s Lakers has to be both a daunting and exhilarating experience, though it’s probably even more thrilling when you’re from another country and you’ve likely only ever seen Staples Center and the Bryant on television.
Antetokounmpo is starting to look like a real steal for the Bucks who selected him with the 15th overall pick in the draft. He likely slipped so far down the board due to playing in Greece before declaring for the draft as opposed to playing for a college team in the States – as well as his apparent “raw” and unpolished game – though several general managers around the league are seemingly kicking themselves for not selecting Giannis with ESPN’s Chad Ford even claiming he’d be taken first overall if the draft was redone today.