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FaceTime with Giannis: Nick Kyrgios’ scoop on NBA’s biggest question

Fresh after recently being relegated to No.2 behind Rafael Nadal in Giannis’ tennis power rankings that he offered up in a social media post with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kyrgios has explained how the pair’s recent bromance began to blossom.

“It was pretty surreal when Stefanos called me and said he had [Giannis’] brother (Los Angeles player Kostas) on the line after the Lakers won the championship,” Kyrgios said.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nick Kyrgios have developed a bromance on social media.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nick Kyrgios have developed a bromance on social media.Credit:Getty

“I was like ‘oh yeah, that’s pretty cool’. Then it was Giannis. I was kind of lost for words. He’s just one of the boys, really. I’ve never met him before but I feel like I get along with him pretty well.”

Antetokounmpo has been quite vocal on social media about Kyrgios recently, which began with a post last month about his favourite tennis players.

“So Nick you were my favourite tennis athlete, player, whatever it’s called,” Antetokounmpo said. “But now it’s Nadal because I just love him. I love him. Sorry.”

When pressed on his demotion, Kyrgios resisted the chance to return serve with a tongue-in-cheek slap down of the man who recently referred to Kyrgios as “nuts” after watching highlights of his meltdowns on YouTube.

“Yeah, he seemed pretty serious about it,” Kyrgios said. “I don’t know. Tsitsipas has been putting me on to Giannis a little bit which has been fun. The NBA season was awesome. He maybe didn’t have the playoffs he would have liked but MVP, so I like him as a player. He’s also Greek. I idolise guys like that and the way they go about their business.”

A quick glance at Kyrgios’ right arm and it doesn’t take much to realise who the Australian believes is the best player in the NBA. The 25-year-old labelled LeBron James, whose image has been tattooed down his arm alongside Kobe Bryant, better than Michael Jordan.

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“He’s the greatest of all time. In my opinion he’s the greatest basketball player,” Kyrgios said of James. “The things he does off the court as well, it’s pretty crazy what he’s doing off the court. He puts children through school. He’s a great spokesperson and a leader.”

Kyrgios was visibly distraught when he took to the court against Nadal during the Australian Open in January on the day Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles. The vision of Kyrgios walking on to Rod Laver Arena wearing Byrant’s Lakers jersey made it on to the tribute video played at the Staples Centre and to millions watching around the world.

An emotional Nick Kyrgios walks out on to Rod Laver Arena during this year's Australian Open.

An emotional Nick Kyrgios walks out on to Rod Laver Arena during this year’s Australian Open.Credit:Getty Images

“That was pretty brutal that day,” Kyrgios said. “I remember waking up and you don’t really know what to believe these days, whether it’s a hoax or not. Then you see it on the major news outlets that it’s actually true … that was tough. I didn’t really watch basketball that day … Then I had to go and play.

“I actually wanted to play in the Kobe jersey. I thought that would have been pretty monumental playing one of the best in the Australian Open, it would have been awesome. Just walking out there, the energy, and that actually made it on to his tribute video as well, so that’s something that is going to last forever. Hopefully athletes can continue to bring what he aspired to be. It was a sad day.”

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