EXCLUSIVE: Playing with Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, per Kyle Korver
LOS ANGELES – LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, 113-103. The game brought forth spectacular showings from two of the leading candidates for the season’s MVP award. James finished with 37 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and three steals in 37 minutes while Antetokounmpo finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and one steal in 36 minutes.
One guy that’s had the opportunity to play with both players is journeyman Kyle Korver. Korver, a native of Paramount, California, has played six different NBA teams across 17 NBA seasons, two of which include James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and Giannis’ current Bucks.
An All-Star in 2015, Korver reached the NBA Finals with the Cavs in 2017 and 2018, but fell short against the Golden State Warriors both times.
Korver’s Bucks currently sit hold a 53-10 record, which easily the best in the NBA, and many have them as an essential lock to come out of the Eastern Conference. Still, Kyle Korver tells ClutchPoints he isn’t ready to say this is the best chance he’s had at an NBA Championship yet.
“It’s hard to say,” admitted Korver. “I mean, certainly, our Cleveland years, we were in the Finals. There’s no guarantee that we’re gonna make it there, but we’re in the mix and I think that’s all you can ask for going into a season. It’s to be on a team that you know is in the mix and I believe that about this team and I’m excited about what may happen down the road.”
The Bucks had been on pace for 70 wins, but have lost two of their last three contests at the hands of the Miami Heat and Lakers. Unless they have a complete collapse down the stretch here, Giannis Antetokounmpo is widely expected to be named the MVP of the 2019-20 season.
“He’s got the right stuff and it’s really up to him,” Korver responded when asked about how much better Antetokounmpo can be.”
“I think he has maybe the most unique physical tools or one of the most unique physical gifts and bodies that the NBA has ever seen. He has a heart that people not see al; the time, but he wants it, he loves it.”
Having played alongside both LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Korver has been able to see firsthand the similarities as well as the differences in the way both superstars lead. The most sizable distinction right now might be the gap in experience. James has 1,256 regular season and 239 playoff games under his belt. Antetokounmpo, on the other hand, only has 522 regular season and 34 playoff games of experience.
“You know…,” Korver paused, trying to find the words to describe James. “LeBron’s just had so many experiences in the NBA. Like he’s been through literally everything. The highs, the lows, the championships, the MVP’s, the losses, injuries. He’s been through so much, and I think Giannis is still a young guy, But they both want it, they both love the game, they both work really hard, and you naturally fall in line behind these guys because of who they are, how they conduct themselves, how hard they work.”
Korver, who currently sits in fourth place on the all-time three-pointers made list, will turn 39 years old on March 17th. At this point, it’s unlikely Korver plays more than another year or two as retirement inches closer. Korver did, however, add that he and his family ‘kicked around’ the idea of playing in Los Angeles, just north of his hometown of Paramount.
“Yeah, we kicked around the the idea this summer. And I guess you just never know for a bunch of reasons. We felt like Milwaukee was the right place for us this year. I have no idea.”
Korver declined to specify whether he was eying the Clippers as well, but the purple and gold were among teams interested in the guard last summer. Both LeBron James’ and Kawhi Leonard’s teams certainly could have used his shooting at different points. He did, however, specify that his NBA future beyond this season won’t depend on him.
“That’s a better question for my wife,” Korver said with a smile. “We’ll see.”
For his career, Kyle Korver has 9.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2.0 three-pointers per game on 44 percent from the field and 42.8% from beyond the arc.