Milwaukee Bucks superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo forgot to mention James Harden in his list of great players on the Brooklyn Nets, or did he?
After defeating an incomplete Nets squad twice in three games this year, Giannis Antetokounmpo appeared in a short post-game interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
The 26-year-old was very clear on how he wasn’t overlooking a loaded Nets team because of a couple of regular-season wins and went onto list great players the opposition had such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Jeff green.
Wait…didn’t he miss out on someone? (1:03-1:08)
Blame it on the post-game fatigue or even the fact that James Harden didn’t play the game that night (he was on the sidelines though), but to miss out on James Harden in your list of great players on the Nets while you remember Jeff Green? Doesn’t seem like a memory issue now does it?
Truth be told, this absurd answer might not come as a surprise to some of you because the Greek Freak and the Beard have been at loggerheads for a while now, and with the Bucks about to face a complete Nets squad in the second round of the playoffs, its only fair to dig deep and figure out how this feud between some of the most prolific MVP recipients the league has ever witnessed, began.
The genesis of the Giannis vs James Harden feud
Although Giannis and Harden have faced each other multiple times during their NBA careers, what initially seemed like a few scuffles in the heat of the game, quickly evolved into a full-blown feud both on and off the court.
If there was a particular moment to choose where the rivalry seemed to be solidified, it would have to be the Houston Rockets organisation putting up a tweet on their page (since been deleted) disagreeing with Giannis receiving the 2018-19 MVP award in the regular season.
While the argument for Harden winning back to back MVP awards was certainly sound, the timing of the tweet, which was when the first time MVP recipient (Giannis) was delivering his acceptance speech, seemed to rub many the wrong way. Following this, the two have been in a back and forth of sorts which have been hard to ignore.
Harden refused to let go of the bitterness of losing out on the MVP award against Giannis claiming that the media played a huge role in creating a narrative around the players and running with it and that it inevitably did affect the voting.
“You can’t tell me that a guy whose team was a 14-seed at one point last year, and ended up a 4-seed with everything that was going on — so many injuries — and who went on a 32-game 30-point streak, eight 50-point games, two 60-point games in one season … and all the talk was about [Antetokounmpo]?
“There’s no way.” – James Harden in an interview for GQ
Harden isn’t off the mark with his criticism and shock here, however, to say that media ran with a narrative against him when he won the same award a year before, that too with a huge margin (86 first-place votes/ 965 points) seems a little unwarranted.
“I want somebody that will pass the ball”: Giannis
After all the smack talk that Giannis had to endure after receiving his first MVP award, the 6’11 phenom wasn’t going to let go of a chance to one-up Harden. While choosing his teammates for the all-star game (2020) against LeBron, Giannis decided to choose Kemba Walker over Harden, when egged on by TNT host Charles Barkley asking
“What? You don’t want the dribbler?” Giannis’ response
“I want somebody who will pass the ball”.
While most took it as a simple joke, this was Harden’s response to Giannis’ comment on his passing ability, in a one on one all-star interview with Rachel Nichols
“I wish I could be seven feet and run and just dunk. Like, that takes no skill at all. I’ve got to actually learn how to play basketball and have the skill, you know? I’ll take that any day.” — Harden
The last time we heard Giannis take a shot a Harden until this latest interview after his game with the Nets, was at the All-star post-game press conference where he decided to joke about Harden’s lack of defensive skills.
“Offensively, we were just trying to find whoever James Harden was guarding. That’s who we thought we’d have the opportunity to score on.” — Antetokounmpo.
What does this rivalry hold for us as the Brooklyn Nets go against the Milwaukee Bucks
Historically, NBA fans have been graced with thrilling and in some cases unending rivalries between teams and players. They somehow seem to add another layer of competitiveness which is undeniably entertaining.
As we get ready to witness arguably one of the most star-studded matchups in recent NBA history with Giannis’ Bucks facing the Brooklyn Nets, it will be exciting to see if this feud between the two escalates and by extension elevates their respective game!