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Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo motivated by playing where Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen starred

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen

Giannis Antetokounmpo might have reached the peak most players aspire to get to, earning MVP honors last season, but the Milwaukee Bucks talisman is still mesmerized by the numbers hanging in the rafters of the storied United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls.

Names like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen hang majestically from the roof of the building, giving Antetokounmpo something greater to go after:

“I definitely want to be one of the best players to ever play, but in order for me to do that, I’ve got to be locked in every night,” Antetokounmpo told ESPN’s Eric Woodyard on Monday night, as he reflected on that initial trip to the United Center. “Because at the end of the day, if you don’t win, it doesn’t count. All the effort you spent, if you don’t win, it really doesn’t count.”

The Greek Freak has made visits to this building before, many times in fact, as a member of the Eastern Conference, and seeing those numbers hanging sparked a new meaning for Antetokounmpo:

“I try to lock in and focus on what I’ve got to do. But yeah, previous years, like when I saw No. 23 — and not just 23, when I saw 33 — that was a guy I used to talk to a lot, Scottie,” Antetokounmpo said. “It definitely motivated me. [Chicago is] a great basketball city. It’s a city that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen played in, so I had that extra juice in me.

“But now I’m just going out there and trying to win no matter what so you can just go back home and be happy.”

It’s rare seeing a player fresh off an MVP campaign be as motivated as Antetokounmpo is, but the reigning Most Valuable Players has yet to reach the most valuable asset, which is a championship — a good starting block to one day get his name hanging from the rafters of the Bucks’ arena.