Giannis Antetokounmpo had already secured 23 points and a season-high 13 assists for the Milwaukee Bucks against the Washington Wizards. But as the game petered out, he dribbled to the basket and lightly tossed the ball off the backboard to himself for his 10th rebound.
“I was thinking about scoring the ball, but I feel like in those situations it’s best to kind of keep the ball,” Antetokounmpo said. “But yeah, I just try to play the game smart and kind of stole one.”
It would be his fourth triple-double of the season as the ‘Greek Freak’ continues to lock horns with Nikola Jokic atop the MVP standings. Perhaps he had the Serb in mind, who notched his 100th career triple-double last week against the Houston Rockets.
Antetokounmpo collected the rebound off a three from Wizards’ guard Corey Kispert with 11 seconds remaining and the opposition defence let him run. He opted not to score but tossed the ball off the backboard to himself as the buzzer went off to signify the end of the game.
It seems that there were no qualms to his obvious stat-padding from either side and the game ended in the Bucks’ favour.
The NBA has not been so lenient in the past. In 2004, Atlanta Hawks guard Bob Sura was retrospectively denied in similar circumstances. Fans who can cast their minds further back may recall a memorable moment with Ricky Davis in 2003.
The Cleveland Cavaliers man had put up 26 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds over the Utah Jazz, well aware that he was one board away from his first career triple-double. When Jumaine Jones inbounded the ball to him near the basket, Davis had one thing on his mind. Instead of running down the clock, he lobbed a gentle flip off the backboard and collected his shot.
The irony is that just like Sura, Davis was not credited with the rebound. Plenty have called for the league to be just as steely this season, with scrutiny over Jokic’s league stats.
Regardless, Antetokounmpo’s antics ensured that his team returned to winning ways after their 16-game winning streak was snapped by the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.