Giannis Antetokounmpo thought he had secured himself his fourth triple-double of the season. In the dying moments of the 117-111 victory over the Washington Wizards, he dribbled to the basket and rebounded an intentionally missed shot to himself.
“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.”
The NBA, however, rescinded his 10th rebound on Monday after an internal review. Its reasoning came from the league rule that states for a field-goal attempt to count as official, the player has to shoot “with intent to score a field-goal”.
Antetokounmpo did not hide his objective as he collected the ball from Wizards’ guard Corey Kispert with 11 seconds remaining. With the opposition defence letting him run, he opted not to score but tossed the ball off the backboard to himself as the buzzer went off.
It seems that there were no qualms to his obvious stat-padding at the time from either side and the game ended in the Bucks’ favour.
But where on-site statisticians credited him with the missed shot that led to the all-important rebound, the league’s review panel, which regularly makes changes to correct errors or omissions, removed it on the same day.
This is not the first time its acted this way. In 2004, Atlanta Hawks guard Bob Sura was denied in similar circumstances. Fans who can cast their minds further back may also 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 and Giannis, Davis was not credited with the rebound, and his final stats of the game meant he fell short.
Antetokounmpo did too. He officially finished with 23 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds. The stat adjustment dropped his rebound average from 11.94 per game to 11.92 – but his shooting percentage, with the missed “shot” also erased, improved from .538 to .539.