Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo marveled at the sustained greatness of LeBron James as his Milwaukee Bucks prepare to host James' Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.
ESPN's Eric Woodyard noted the Greek Freak called King James "different" and an "alien" for his ability to remain among the league's elite at age 34.
"It's crazy. It's insane," Antetokounmpo said. "Obviously for me, that's one of my goals to be able to play at a high level for the next 10 years."
He touched on a similar sentiment during a conversation with Eric Nehm of The Athletic earlier this week:
"When I was 12 years old and starting to play basketball, he was 22 leading his team to the Finals. Like I was 12, he was 22 and I looked up to him for a lot of years. It's hard to get that shit out of your system whenever you're playing."
"LeBron is in the same category as Kobe [Bryant], [Michael] Jordan, [Kevin Garnett], Tim Duncan. Whenever you see them, you're like—you're not starstruck, but you have so much respect for them. But that's gotta go away."
James was limited to a career-low 55 appearances during an injury-plagued 2018-19 season, his first year with the Lakers, and it was fair to wonder whether all the mileage had started to catch up with him.
Instead, it seems like the offseason acquisition of Anthony Davis has revitalized the 15-time All-Star and 12-time All-NBA First Team selection.
He's averaged 25.9 points, 10.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 49.8 percent from the field across 28 games. He ranks first in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus (Antetokounmpo is second).
"This all goes to him caring more than last year," an NBA scout told Bleacher Report's Mo Dakhil about the difference in James with the Lakers now among the title contenders after finishing last season 37-45.
Thursday's clash is a battle for the top record in the NBA, with both the Lakers and Bucks standing at 24-4.
L.A. will need the 34-year-old James to help slow down the 25-year-old Antetokounmpo if it's going to pick up the league's most notable road victory of the season to date.