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Giannis MVP Watch: Bucks vs. Spurs II

Antetokounmpo’s appearance on ’60 Minutes’ was befitting of an MVP

Milwaukee Bucks “point forward” Giannis Antetokounmpo is the wild card among the favorites to win the NBA’s MVP award (James Harden, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the other favorites). Antetokounmpo, a native of Greece who turned 23 in December, is a mixture of the size, speed, lankiness, raw power and finesse that’s only seen in the so-called “unicorns” of the league (New York’s Kristaps Porziņgis and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons). But Antetokounmpo appears to have the most upside of any of those players, and he is slowly nipping at James’ heels for most dominant athlete in the league.

The Undefeated will track Antetokounmpo’s performances that add to his burgeoning MVP candidacy through our “Giannis MVP Watch.” You can catch up on previous entries here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X, Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII, Part XIV, Part XV, Part XVI.


What did he do?

25 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal on 56.3 percent shooting in a 106-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

Did he dunk on someone?

Spurs center Pau Gasol has been dunked on many times. In 2016, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan nearly straddled Gasol while slamming it home in his face; Gasol looked around at his teammates as if to ask, “Did he just do that to me?” In 2014, Jordan’s then-running mate Blake “Ginuwine” Griffin rode Gasol’s back like a pony on one dunk and sent the 7-footer to the ground on a second dunk in the same game.

Fast-forward to Sunday, and it was more of the same. Antetokounmpo received an entry pass into the paint from Bucks guard Brandon Jennings and was immediately swarmed by Gasol and forward Rudy Gay. Antetokounmpo hit the duo with a pair of pump fakes, and on the last one he rose up over Gasol — who, again, is 7 feet tall — and yammed on him with Gay on his back.

It was like the Battle of the Alamo all over again, and Antetokounmpo was (checked Wikipedia) President General Antonio López de Santa Anna.

Did he make a crazy play?

It doesn’t rain as much in Milwaukee as it does in California, but there was a Splash Brothers sighting in the Cream City on Sunday. Antetokounmpo is the furthest thing from a sharpshooter (he’s shooting just 29.5 percent on 3-pointers this season), but the combination he put on Dejounte Murray was Stephen Curry-esque.

Antetokounmpo got Murray in the air on the first pump fake and stepped slightly forward, which made the Spurs guard turn completely around, and then Antetokounmpo hit a nasty step-back that led to one of his three 3-pointers on the day.

Look familiar?

What was his MVP moment?

While Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in scoring in his first game back from an ankle injury and helped hold a 15-point lead late in the fourth quarter, this Milwaukee win was against a Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs team, so there wasn’t much to take away from this game, per se.

But Antetokounmpo’s MVP moment came about two hours after the game when he was featured on 60 Minutes. CBS correspondent Steve Kroft profiled the 23-year-old’s rise from Greek street panhandler to NBA superstar in just five years. 60 Minutes normally brings in more than 10 million viewers a week (no doubt more this week after a sensational lead-in story about the president of the United States), so this was an opportunity to showcase the Milwaukee forward to a new audience.

And of all the MVP candidates this season, only James and Durant (two former winners) have been featured on the newsmagazine program.

Martenzie is a senior researcher for The Undefeated. His favorite cinematic moment is when Django said "Y'all want to see somethin?"