Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. LeBron James: Which superstar had better NBA Finals block?


Devin Booker erupted for 42 factors in Sport 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals, together with 18 within the third quarter on 7-of-7 taking pictures. Khris Middleton had 40 factors of his personal and outscored the Suns 10-4 over the ultimate two minutes and 15 seconds of regulation, guiding Milwaukee to a 109-103 win over Phoenix.

And but, it was one play by Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo that had the members of NBA Twitter shedding their minds. Within the fourth quarter of Wednesday night time’s contest, Antetokounmpo gave basketball followers one of the crucial unimaginable defensive highlights in NBA Finals historical past.

Take it away, Mike Breen:

“Giannis simply made a spectacular block, a spectacular play,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer mentioned after Sport 4. “His potential to cowl floor and get to that time, get to the highest — that is an NBA Finals particular second proper there, and we’ll want extra of them. His influence on the sport on each ends of the court docket — it is a big-time block. That is what he is able to.”

However one in every of Antetokounmpo’s teammates took it a step additional. Bucks guard Pat Connaughton known as Antetokounmpo’s rejection of Deandre Ayton the “greatest block of all time.” Sure, he even put it above LeBron James’ legendary block from the 2016 NBA Finals.

MORE: Antetokounmpo explains early exits in Video games 3 and 4

“Clearly, we’re just a little biased, and you may speak in regards to the LeBron block as properly,” Connaughton mentioned. “However so far as a block the place he was protecting the pick-and-roll, he needed to decide the place the cross was, the place Ayton was catching it and making an attempt to dunk it, above the field, it is about as spectacular as you will get.”

OK, Pat, we’re getting into this debate into “Hoops Courtroom.” Which former MVP had the higher NBA Finals block: Antetokounmpo or James?

The case for LeBron James

The setup: Sport 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals was a rock struggle within the fourth quarter. It appeared as if the Cavaliers and Warriors had been caught at 89-89 for an hour. With lower than two minutes remaining, Golden State appeared to have a possibility for a straightforward bucket, as Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala ran a easy two-on-one drill in opposition to J.R. Smith. Iguodala handed to Curry, who kicked it again to Iguodala. After which . . .

The play: “OH, BLOCKED BY JAMES! LEBRON JAMES WITH THE REJECTION!” The Cavs star was a couple of steps behind Curry and Iguodala, however he was monitoring the play all the way in which. Smith compelled Iguodala to carry onto the ball simply lengthy sufficient to provide James an opportunity — and an opportunity was all that he wanted.

Quotable: “I used to be similar to don’t surrender on the play,” James mentioned. “Should you bought a possibility, simply attempt to make this play. I used to be additionally considering like J.R., please do not foul him. I do know I am proper there, I can get it, I can get it. I used to be like, ‘J.R. do not foul him and ‘Bron get the ball earlier than it hit the backboard.’ And we did that.”

Iguodala’s response: “I am like, ‘Man, that s— was so dope to me, too.’ I used to be a fan. That s— was wonderful,” Iguodala mentioned. “When he blocked it, I used to be like, ‘Rattling, any individual bought shot.’ I believed it was humorous. Any individual simply made a very good play. What you need me to do? Should you benefit from the recreation of basketball, it’s best to simply be like, ‘Dude made an important play. F— it.'”

The consequence: Lower than a minute after James’ block, Kyrie Irving drilled the largest shot in franchise historical past, a 3-pointer from the best wing that gave the Cavs a 92-89 lead. They went on to win by a ultimate rating of 93-89, bringing the town of Cleveland its first championship in 52 years and opening the door large open for anybody who needed to fireside off jokes in regards to the Warriors blowing a 3-1 sequence lead.

The case for Giannis Antetokounmpo

The setup: After trailing by as many as 9 factors within the fourth quarter of Sport 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals, the Bucks battled again and took a two-point lead over the Suns on a Middleton jumper with simply over a minute to go. On the following possession, Phoenix ran a dribble handoff with Booker and Ayton close to the highest of the important thing. Booker drew Antetokounmpo towards him, then flipped a lob cross to a slicing Ayton. After which . . .

The play: “SHOT BLOCKED BY ANTETOKOUNMPO! WHAT A BLOCK FROM GIANNIS!” Antetokounmpo in some way managed to each comprise the ball and recuperate again to Ayton in time to cleanly swat the ball away. 

Quotable: “Only a hustle play. I believed I used to be going to get dunked on, to be sincere with you,” Antetokounmpo mentioned. “However you already know, taking place the stretch, simply do no matter it takes to win the sport. Simply put your self ready that you may win the sport. . . . It did not shock me. I noticed it coming. As soon as I noticed him put it in his one hand, he was too far for a layup. So I knew he was making an attempt to lob, and I dedicated a lot.

“You sort of threat it. You sort of really feel it. I felt him rolling to the rim behind me, so I knew the one probability to get a cease is simply bounce towards the rim and attempt to cowl that angle for him to attain.”

Iguodala’s response: “That Giannis block was loopy. [James]-esque!” Iguodala tweeted.

The consequence: Middleton hit one other clutch jumper and a few free throws down the stretch to increase Milwaukee’s lead, and the Bucks held on to keep away from falling right into a 3-1 gap. (Insert your Warriors jokes right here, people.)

The decision

Since Connaughton began the argument, we should always give him an opportunity to elucidate his place in additional depth.

“I’d have a look at the standards of biggest block of all time primarily based off issue of the block after which time and rating,” Connaughton mentioned. “I feel clearly LeBron’s time and rating most likely has the sting in that state of affairs due to when it was and helped them actually win a championship that recreation. However I feel the distinction between the time and rating distinction after which the problem of the block distinction provides the sting to Giannis simply because a chase-down block, you bought just a little bit extra of a capability to learn. And clearly it is an important block. We’re speaking about two of one of the best blocks of all time, so I do not need to discredit that block.

“However Giannis was guarding the pick-and-roll. He was guarding the pick-and-roll. That is a play that they’ve carried out time and time once more. [Booker] threw an important cross. He threw it excessive and away from any defender, and Giannis was in a position to recuperate. He is Defensive Participant of the 12 months, two-time MVP for a purpose, and I feel it is these sorts of performs to have the ability to learn the place Ayton is, the place the ball is, and to have the athleticism to get that prime and get actually all the basketball is why I’d give the sting to him.”

This feels just like the candy spot. Antetokounmpo will get the slight edge if each performs are being evaluated purely primarily based on diploma of issue. Antetokounmpo needed to shortly flip, leap into the air and discover the ball in a really tight window. Plus, Ayton caught the ball above the sq. with nobody in entrance of him, whereas Iguodala needed to duck underneath Smith.

Nonetheless, in case you issue within the stakes, James must be No. 1. We’re speaking Sport 7 of the NBA Finals. What could possibly be greater?

However actually, this entire train was simply an excuse to repeatedly watch two superior blocks. There are not any losers — properly, apart from Ayton and Iguodala. Sorry, guys.


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