The loss was only seconds old when Amar’e Stoudemire, a towel draped around his neck, approached Giannis Antetokounmpo for a congratulatory handshake and some unsolicited advice.
Antetokounmpo, 19, had helped the Milwaukee Bucks defeat the Knicks on Monday with a smorgasbord of post moves and up-and-under layups, and Stoudemire told him to keep working hard, a painfully tired trope among athletes — but a line that still means something to Stoudemire.
“Those are my motivational words to younger players,” he said after a recent practice. “Pretty simple, but it’s true.”
Stoudemire, 31, said he saw flashes of his former self in Antetokounmpo: the energy, the excitement, the easy athleticism, all of the familiar currencies of youth. The game was once effortless for Stoudemire, too, back when he was a teenage forward with the Phoenix Suns who turned the basketball court into his own trapeze set. Seldom celebrated for his defense, he was more than capable of making up the difference in other areas. He dunked. He dazzled. He dominated.
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