Giannis Antetokounmpo finished Sunday night’s win over the Washington Wizards with his 35th career triple-double. But the way he accomplished it was more hilarious than impressive.
The Milwaukee Bucks star missed a rebound in the closing seconds of the 117-111 victory with 23 points, 13 assists and nine boards. Rather than running out of time after grabbing his ninth board, Antetokounmpo quickly returned to the basket, deliberately missed a layup and landed his 10th rebound to secure the triple-double.
It was Antetokounmpo’s fourth triple-double of the season, well behind Denver Nuggets big man and MVP favorite Nikola Jokic, who has 25. Luka Doncic, Domantas Sabonis and Ja Morant are all ahead of Antetokounmpo in the triple-double department. The Bucks star is tied with James Harden and Russell Westbrook with four this season.
After the game, Antetokounmpo said he decided against scoring just so the Bucks could keep possession before the final bell rang.
“I thought I was going to score the ball, but I feel like in these situations it’s better to keep the ball,” Antetokounmpo said. “But yeah, I’m just trying to play the game smart and I kind of stole one.”
Of course, Giannis.
Antetokounmpo’s situation similar to others
It’s not the first time a player has tried to win a triple-double this way.
Atlanta Hawks guard Bob Sura had his triple-double disallowed by the NBA in 2004 less than a day after his game after bouncing off his own intentionally missed shot. The NBA claimed that because Sura’s shot was not legit (because he missed on purpose), he could not receive a rebound.
“I’m disappointed that my attempt to convert my third triple-double has caused so much controversy,” Sura said at the time. “It was never intended to deride our sport and distract from our huge win over the Nets. If anyone was offended by my actions, I sincerely apologize.”
Another — and funnier — example is what former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Davis attempted almost 20 years ago to the day. He took an inbound pass from the Cavaliers side of the field and threw a shot from his own field goal to grab the rebound for his first career triple-double.
Obviously, shots on a team’s own field goal do not count as a field goal attempt and therefore the subsequent rebound did not count. Worse, Davis was immediately fouled by Utah Jazz guard DeShawn Steveson after the attempt, and Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said he “would have kicked (Davis) on his ass.” The Cavaliers fined Davis an undisclosed amount.
Antetokounmpo has yet to receive the same vitriol as Sura or Davis, but he has reopened the NBA Stat Padding Conversation Sparked by ESPN Analyst Kendrick Perkins in February. Perkins claimed MVP favorite Jokic spent more to inflate his stats and get more triple-doubles. But after Antetokounmpo’s intentional miss on Sunday night, Perkins tweeted “Every player has increased their stats at some point in their career.”