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Giannis Says He'd Give Up His MVP For A Gold Medal At The FIBA World Cup

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(FIBA) –  It’s not every day an NBA player would be heard wishing to trade his NBA Most Valuable Player award for a FIBA Basketball World Cup title, but that’s exactly what Giannis Antetokounmpo is thinking.

Giannis is set to become the first player to see action at the World Cup right after capturing the prestigious MVP award, and to do so for a Greek program that has seen a lot of success at this level is nothing short of significant.

The 24-year-old didn’t mince his words as he expressed his desire to shock the world this year.

“I would exchange the MVP title for the gold medal in China,” he declared.

Dubbed the “Greek Freak,” Giannis has had a profound impact on the game these past few years, rising from a big question mark in the NBA Draft 2013 to become arguably the best player on the planet right now.

In just six NBA seasons and at just 24 years of age, Giannis has blossomed into an unstoppable force, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their best record since the 1980-1981 season and clinching their first number one seed in 45 years.

Still, despite all that he has achieved, Giannis knows that the ripples of his growth and stardom go way beyond the confines of the NBA. Back in Greece, the 6ft 11in (2.11m) wingman has become an icon for anyone hoping to emerge from obscurity and reach the pinnacle of excellence.

That’s why for Giannis, putting the Hellas kit on is an unparalleled experience, and that’s why winning the World Cup would be his brightest crowning glory yet.

For a lot of guys, international play is mostly whatever. Nowadays in the US, we’re seeing out elite players opt out of international competition for the FIBA World Cup in order to prepare for the upcoming season. Not Giannis though. You can tell playing for Greece means something to him and hearing him say he would give up the MVP for a FIBA Gold Medal might sound crazy to the average person but

What’s crazy is we’re not even talking about the Olympics down the line in Tokyo next summer, we’re simply talking about the FIBA World Cup that’s about to kick off. Giannis understands that his impact in Greece is unlike anything you and I could ever imagine, and to have that level of success representing his home country is something special that clearly means a lot to him. Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few years you’ve seen the sort of impact Giannis has had in Greece, and the way he embraces his culture before/after games is truly cool to watch

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That’s why I don’t think Giannis is full of shit when he says something like this. Giannis doesn’t exactly come off as a guy who isn’t genuine in what he says. He probably knows deep down he’s going to win a bunch of MVPs down the road so to him the real achievement is that gold medal. They’ve drawn Group F this year which means they’ll face Montenegro, Brazil and New Zealand and you’ll remember back in 2006 Greece actually beat the US in the World Cup. If the NBA regular season is any indication where a bunch of Americans had trouble stopping Giannis, I’m pretty sure the rest of the world is just as screwed.