Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has a chance to go down as one of the greatest players in NBA history. However, he doesn’t want people to compare him to the one and only Michael Jordan.
Led by Antetokounmpo, the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of the 2021 NBA Finals to climb back into the series. The two-time MVP finished with 41 points, marking the second consecutive game he hit the 40-point mark.
Jordan has the NBA record with four straight 40-point games in the Finals. Even though he’s halfway there, Antetokounmpo doesn’t want anyone to associate him with the Chicago Bulls legend.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “I’m not Michael Jordan”
In the 1993 Finals against the Suns, Jordan scored 40 points in four consecutive games. When Antetokounmpo was told that by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press, the Bucks superstar humbly said he’s not His Airness.
“I’m not Michael Jordan,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m not Michael Jordan. But all I care about right now is getting one more. Just take care of business doing our job.”
Jordan averaged 41.0 points versus the Suns in the ’93 Finals, a series the Bulls won in six games. Through his first three career Finals games, Antetokounmpo is putting up 34.3 points and 14.0 rebounds per game while shooting 62.5% from the field. It will certainly be fascinating to see if the All-Star swingman can make it three straight games with 40 points in Game 4.
Although they are two completely different players, Jordan and Antetokounmpo have a few things in common. In fact, they are part of a prestigious club that also includes the great Hakeem Olajuwon.
Michael Jordan and Giannis Antetokounmpo won MVP and DPOY in same season
Jordan, Antetokounmpo, and Olajuwon are the only three players in NBA history to win MVP and DPOY in the same season. Jordan accomplished the feat in 1987-88, while Antetokounmpo did it in 2019-20.
Antetokounmpo is a championship away from having one of the best résumés in NBA history. Along with being a two-time MVP and one-time Defensive Player of the Year, the Greek Freak won the 2016-17 Most Improved Player of the Year and has made five All-Star teams. As long as he stays healthy, he will certainly make more All-Star teams and compete for future MVPs.
Jordan is widely believed to have the greatest basketball résumé of all time. He went 6-0 in the Finals, won all six Finals MVPs, took home five regular-season MVPs, captured 10 scoring titles, and is the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game and player efficiency rating.
Because he’s so humble, Antetokounmpo doesn’t want people to compare him to other NBA legends such as Jordan. However, if he continues to dominate, he will have no choice but to listen to all the praise coming his way. After all, Jordan isn’t the only Hall of Famer Antetokounmpo is putting up similar numbers as.
Bucks superstar is doing Shaquille O’Neal-like things against Suns
Antetokounmpo and Shaquille O’Neal are the only two players in NBA Finals history with back-to-back games of 40 points and 10 rebounds. The Bucks should count their blessings every night Antetokounmpo fell to them in the 2013 draft and that he signed the supermax extension with them.
Basketball fans shouldn’t take Antetokounmpo for granted. Even though he’s not a good shooter, the Bucks’ do-it-all forward has the makings of becoming a once-in-a-generation player. Just like Jordan dominated the mid-range game, Antetokounmpo feasts inside. In Game 3, all 14 of his made field goals came within five feet of the basket. He’s the only player in the past 25 years to score at least 30 points without making a shot outside of five feet, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Jordan never lost in the Finals during his Hall of Fame career. Even though Antetokounmpo doesn’t want to be compared to the Bulls icon, he likely wants to avoid losing on the NBA’s biggest stage. With that said, don’t be surprised if we see another Jordan-like performance from Antetokounmpo in Game 4.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.