LeBron James made the most iconic block in game seven, but Max Kellerman believes Giannis Antetokounmpo and his game four saving block was better.
The Bucks looked like they were about to go down 3-1 in the series as their offense was out of shape while facing a six point deficit heading into the final period. However, a late Middleton surge put the Bucks up 101-99 with 1:28 left to play.
That’s when chaos seemed to break. The Suns, facing a crucial possession, appeared to find a perfect way to tie the game right back up. A Devin Booker lob to Deandre Ayton was there for the taking, until it wasn’t. Giannis Antetokounmpo would sky in to block the shot, fueling the Bucks to maintain the lead the rest of the way.
Game 5: Saturday, 9 PM ET, ABC pic.twitter.com/0DDnR2CYKD
— NBA (@NBA) July 15, 2021
So, was this block more impressive than LeBron James’ Finals block in 2016? Let’s take a look, and see whether Max Kellerman has a point.
Was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Block Better Than LeBron James’?
The Cavaliers completed the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history when they worked their way back from a 3-1 deficit in 2016 to win the series. There were several iconic plays from that final game seven including Kyrie Irving’s stepback three pointer to put the nail in the coffin for Golden State.
Kyrie Irving’s Clutch Three in GM7!
He averaged 27 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL during the 2016 NBA Finals and went off for 41 PTS (17-24 FG) in GM5. pic.twitter.com/jubT3B6k1T
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 23, 2020
However, there was perhaps an even bigger moment in the game right before that play. With the score nodded up at 89 and both sides struggling to score, the Warriors got the chance of a lifetime to score on a fastbreak opportunity. Iguodala looked like he had a clean layup, until he didn’t (just like Deandre Ayton).
#2 | TOP 20 CLUTCH PLAYS – 2010s
🚫 “OH, BLOCKED BY JAMES!” 🚫@KingJames comes out of nowhere for the INCREDIBLE CHASEDOWN BLOCK in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA FINALS, sending the @cavs to their first-ever NBA championship! pic.twitter.com/cKT3zRFDiH
— NBA (@NBA) December 28, 2019
Don’t underrate JR Smith’s work on this play by the way as he forced Iggy to alter his shot which gave LeBron the extra split-second he needed to block Iguodala.
So, which block is more skilled? It’s a tough call. LeBron’s forced him to run halfway across the court to make up for the lost ground, and he had to do it in a much higher pressure scenario. If the Warriors make that shot, there’s a good chance they win the game and ice Cleveland’s comeback effort.
However, Giannis also had to make a split second decision. After pulling up to prevent Devin Booker from getting an easy shot or floater, he had to quickly rotate around, track the ball, and place his hands in the exact position to make the play. That requires precise timing and skill to pull off, and that’s why Max believes his block is better.
Max did concede that LeBron’s play was certainly greater since it came in a game seven with the score tied and the entire series on the line, but his overall point stood on the fact that Giannis made the better stand-alone play.
.@maxkellerman thinks Giannis’ block was more skilled than LeBron’s chase down 👀
“That’s one of the greatest plays in the history of basketball. … LeBron’s moment had even more leverage, but I wouldn’t say skill-wise it required more.” pic.twitter.com/HdLGTvO2ze
— First Take (@FirstTake) July 15, 2021