Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo felt left out, however, so he asked Bryant for a challenge of his own. And Bryant responded, challenging the Greek Freak to win the NBA MVP award.
Kobe Bryant @kobebryant
MVP https://t.co/cjmWH5Mqyz2017-8-27 13:26:58
Bryant's challenges ranged from the practical (challenging Thomas to make the All-NBA First Team in the 2017-18 season) to the more personal (challenging DeRozan to "rekindle a lost friendship from your youth in Compton").
He also issued challenges for rapper Kendrick Lamar ("I challenge your record label to revolutionize the music program at Centennial High School"), Olympian Allyson Felix ("I challenge you to coach the sprinters for the upcoming Special Olympics") and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman ("I challenge you to break the Seahawks single season interception record").
Antetokounmpo's challenge was perhaps the loftiest amongst those issued, though it's hardly out of reach for the dynamic forward. He took a major leap forward in the 2016-17 season, averaging career highs in points (22.9), rebounds (8.8), assists (5.4), blocks (1.9) and minutes (35.6) per game.
He finished eighth in the NBA MVP voting.
Given that Antetokounmpo is just 22 and still has so much room to grow—he shot just 27.2 percent from beyond the arc last season, and a consistent perimeter jumper would make him virtually unstoppable—it isn't a stretch to believe he could seriously be in the running for an MVP award as soon as next year.
Certainly, the goal seems like one he's capable of accomplishing before his career comes to a close.