A camera caught Stephen Curry counseling Giannis Antetokounmpo shortly before the 2018 All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Antetokounmpo spent most of their interaction nodding his head, absorbing the words of the two-time MVP.
"You should see that every year you get better and you take the next step," Curry said. "That's what it's all about. That right there." Antetokounmpo responded that he enjoyed watching the Warriors play and they appeared to have fun on the court.
"We say winning is fun, but the way you do it everybody is involved," Curry said. "Obviously, you lead the charge, but you appreciate what everybody brings to the table. As the leader, that's what it's all about."
A little more than a year later, Antetokounmpo appears to be taking that next step. Two games from their first Finals appearance in nearly half a century, the Bucks, and their blossoming superstar, are on the verge of assuming the Eastern Conference title void left by LeBron James. Should Curry's Warriors do as most expect and advance to their fifth straights Finals, there likely won't be any new words of encouragement or the types of highlight-reel assists the two worked on in Charlotte, North Carolina at this year's All-Star Game.
This season, and postseason, has seen Antetokounmpo transition from athletic marvel to fully formed MVP candidate. It would be easy to ascribe that to a set of physical skills that have opponents debating how many defenders to devote between a transcendental player who can travel from half court to the rim in a single dribble and the rest of his sharpshooting teammates, but it would also be incomplete.
For as much as Antetokounmpo has changed as a player in his six NBA seasons, he has matured just as much as leader for these Bucks.