Just like May 4 is a key day on the Star Wars calendar (“May the fourth be with you” for those unfamiliar), March 16 is a banner day for wrestling fans. And apparently, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is among the many.
Stone Cold Steve Austin ushered in WWE’s Attitude Era by uttering the phrase “Austin 3:16” during a post-match interview. So every year, wrestling fans celebrate Stone Cold on 3/16.
Giannis rolled up to the podium after a win over the Sacramento Kings and decided to pay tribute to Austin in pure Antetokounmpo fashion.
Stone Cold Day is a national holiday for wrestling fans, one apparently celebrated by The Greek Freak
Stone Cold Steve Austin is one of the most influential figures in wrestling history. He was the definition of attitude during the sport’s Attitude Era during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Stone Cold and The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson — he will always be The Rock, not Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) were the headliners of that period, along with wrestlers like HHH, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and The Undertaker.
But it was Austin’s “3:16” speech at 1996’s King of the Ring (held in Milwaukee, by the way) that put him — and the Attitude Era — on the map.
A brief history lesson: Stone Cold beat Jake Roberts, who at that time was working a preacher persona, to win the event.
In the post-match interview, Austin delivered a message in reference to the famous John 3:16 Christian Bible verse, mocking Roberts.
“Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your a**,” he said. And it caught on like wildfire.
Since then, “Austin 3:16” has been plastered on t-shirts, signs, coffee mugs, and any WWE merchandise released since the late ’90s.
So on Stone Cold Day, Giannis showed up to a postgame presser ready to honor The Rattlesnake (Stone Cold’s nickname).
Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated in Giannis style after a Bucks win
After a 135-126 win over the Kings, Antetokounmpo rolled up to the postgame press conference wearing a “Giannis 3:16” shirt.
After Stone Cold won big matches, he would celebrate by chugging beers. So The Greek Freak also had a beer waiting for him on the podium.
“Hold on. Hold on,” he said before the media began asking questions via his Twitter account. He cracked open the beer and said, “I don’t usually drink, but I’m going to take a sip.”
Giannis took a small sip (of mostly foam) and immediately put the beer down in disgust. “That’s just nasty,” he said.
But the Bucks star subtly got one last Austin reference in before the questions came: “Hell no,” he said. (Austin used to ask the crowd, “Can I get a hell yeah” during promos).
It was genuine, funny, and charming. Only Giannis could honor one of the most hardcore characters in wrestling history and have it be described with those three words.
Antetokounmpo is still stunning the NBA
(The Stone Cold Stunner was Austin’s finisher for anyone unaware. That’s where the bad pun comes from).
Giannis went from a skinny unknown 19-year-old from Greece to a two-time NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, NBA Champion, and Finals MVP.
He’s in the midst of a season that could see him win his third MVP award. He’s absolutely one of, if not the best, players in the league.
His ascent to stardom was stunning, much like Austin’s.
Except his finisher is ferociously dunking on opponents’ heads. But that move feels like something Stone Could would approve of.
All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.