Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Greek Freak, a player who has made his name with his explosive athleticism. He’s twice been named an NBA All-Star, and is currently leading the Milwaukee Bucks in scoring.
Giannis Antetokounmpo once cut off a reporter mid-question, even while receiving a flattering comparison. I’m not Michael Jordan.
For the last 25 years, the Michael Jordan comparison has basically been a rite of passage. It is unavoidable for every great athlete. Giannis Antetokounmpo was the latest to hear it during the 2021 NBA Finals, but he cut the discussion off at the pass.
In the 2000s, it was Kobe Bryant. It’s now LeBron James’ turn. Jordan’s renowned competitiveness gave birth to the Mamba Mentality, and the King is often cited with Jordan in debates over who is the best of all time.
Even though the Greek Freak is a completely different character than the six-time NBA champion, Jordan comparisons will persist as he accumulates more honors and maybe wins more championships.
Giannis Antetokounmpo already has a lengthy resume in the NBA.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo warms up before a game against the New Orleans Pelicans. | Getty Images/Jonathan Bachman
In 2013, the 6-foot-11 forward was selected with the 15th overall selection. He was chosen as a virtual unknown after being scouted out of a second-division league in Greece. He was, however, 6-9, long, and athletic.
During his first season, Antetokounmpo averaged 6.8 points per game. He improved his scoring average for the following six years, became a double-digit rebounder, gained 50 pounds and two inches, and was named a five-time all-star and five-time All-NBA player.
In 2016-17, he was awarded the league’s Most Improved Player, and he has won MVP in back-to-back seasons, as well as a Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019-20. Two years in a row, he guided the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the league.
The only thing lacking from his résumé was a title. He did it last year, too, with a 50-point, 14-rebound, five-block Game 6 shutout over the Phoenix Suns, giving Milwaukee its first NBA title in five decades.
But it doesn’t place him in Jordan territory, and Giannis is well aware of this.
Antetokounmpo once interrupted a reporter in the middle of a question to inform the audience that he is not Michael Jordan.
The 26-year-old had a Finals performance to remember. He had a 35.2 point, 13.2 rebound, 5.0 assist, 1.2 steal, and 1.8 block per game average. In Game 6, the Alphabet shot 61.5 percent from the field and used his free throw demons, hitting 17 of 19 from the line.
In a Game 2 defeat, Antetokounmpo scored 42 points, and he followed it up with a 41-point effort in a Game 3 victory. The Jordan analogies followed.
Jordan led the Bulls to a 2-0 series lead against the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals. In a Game 3 defeat, His Airness scored 44 points, identical to Antetokounmpo’s 42 points in Game 2 of the 2021 Finals. In a Game 4 win, Jordan scored 40 points for the fourth time in as many games to put Chicago up 3-1.
Giannis was (about to be) asked whether he could match The G.O.A.T.’s record of four consecutive 40-point games in an NBA Finals. He cut it off before the interviewer on NBA TV could complete his question (h/t House of Highlights):
“In the NBA Finals, Michael Jordan had four consecutive 40-point games against the Phoenix Suns —
“I’m not Michael Jordan,” Antetokounmpo says. My name isn’t Michael Jordan, and I’m not a basketball player. “Four 40-pointers in a… straight?”
“Four in a row,” says the reporter.
“I’m not Michael Jordan,” Antetokounmpo says. Right now, all I care about is obtaining another one. That is all there is to it. Taking care of business and doing our duties.”
The Greek Freak has the potential to be one of the greatest of all time, but he will never reach Jordanian soil.
Mike won his first NBA title when he was 27 years old. At the age of 26, Antetokounmpo earned his first championship. So he’s one step ahead of the game.
All that remains for the 2021 Finals MVP is to win two more championships in a row. Then win three more titles in a row. And win three more MVPs during the regular season, as well as five more MVPs in the Finals. Make nine additional appearances as an all-star.
Is it unthinkable? No. But just barely.
Basketball Reference provided all statistics.
Giannis Antetokounmpo slammed the New York Knicks in public in 2015, then backed it up the next night: ‘They’ve already lost 15 (straight) games, and tomorrow will be 16.’
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