Giannis Antetokounmpo refuses to take part in friendly summer workouts with other stars

Getty Images

This alone will have some old-school fans Giannis Antetokounmpo the MVP all by itself.

NBA stars working out together is part of summer. Many of them head to the same handful of gyms, or to the same few pickup runs around the nation. It’s a right of summer for many of them.

Antetokounmpo wants no part of that. He turned down a chance to be at Chris Brickley’s Black Ops runs in New York this summer which featured Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and others. From Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

“They wanted me to come, show up, and play and I was like, ‘No. I’m good. Thank you,’ ” Antetokounmpo said…

“I can’t work out with you in the summer and then play you in a few months,” Antetokounmpo told The Athletic. “It feels weird. It doesn’t feel right with me. Like other players, it’s cool for other players, but I don’t. I don’t want to. Other guys do it.”

Antetokounmpo did work out last summer with Kobe Bryant because he is no longer in the NBA or officially part of a team. Aside from that, he works out with Bucks personnel and keeps to his routine. Antetokounmpo doesn’t want to let people in and show them where those players could learn something to go back at him.

I respect Antetokounmpo’s opinion. I also have no problem with other stars — or, NBA players in general — working out together during the summer for two reasons.

First, if you are Durant or LeBron or Harden — an MVP level of play Antetokounmpo is approaching if not already at — how many guys are there walking the planet can really push you and challenge you on the court? How many guys can force you to get better to keep beating them? It’s a handful of players, and if you want to be challenged, you need to be challenged by them. (There’s a sliding scale for that all the way through the NBA, these are some of the world’s best players and they can’t just show up to the local blacktop pickup run and get better.)

Second, those guys still go hard at each other in games. Harder maybe. If you’re like me, you brought your energy and best efforts for pickup games against your brother/family or your best friends. I was not going to let them beat me. We all went hard at each other like that. Then, when it was over, we went and got lunch, shared some beers hung out and went back to being friends. The idea that players won’t play as hard against friends never made sense to me. The opposite tends to be true.

We’ll see if in a few years Antetokounmpo changes his tune. For now, he’s not going to be buddy-buddy with anyone.