Did Giannis Antetokounmpo Just Forgive James Harden for His Acerbic Comment?

Published 09/25/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
Jun 19, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) fight for a loose ball in the second quarter during game seven in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports


The Eastern Conference semifinals in 2021 saw Giannis Antetokounmpo vs Kevin Durant in back-to-back epic duels. As juicy as it was, the world was hoping to witness a showdown between The Greek Freak and The Beard as well, considering the history between the two. However, James Harden pulling his hamstring and then coming back with half the power ruined those hopes.

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Giannis, in his eight-year NBA career, hasn’t had many moments where his altercation with a rival turned into a long-time beef. However, both James Harden and Antetokounmpo have been going back and forth for a while, leading people to believe the beef is here to stay. But now, it looks like the Bucks leader has finally moved on.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo on his issues with James Harden

In February 2020, right before the season’s halt, James Harden (Rockets) had taken a jab at Giannis Antetokounmpo. In a viral interview with Rachel Nichols, The Beard made the following statement, “I wish I could be 7-feet, run and just dunk. That takes no skill at all. I gotta actually learn how to play basketball and how to have skill.”

Although he hadn’t taken a name, the explanation matched with 6’11” Giannis, who is a ravishing force inside the paint. Also, at that point, the Bucks were EC toppers and were coming off a 3-0 2019 season over the Houston side. 

But in a recent interview, the 2x MVP cleared himself off the beef. The Bucks champion stated, “I think that the media made it about me. Harden is a great player and when I am on the court against him, I have to play real hard…”

Well, it seems like the championship win of 2021 has transformed The Alphabet into a wiser man.

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But why exactly did The Beard’s comments feel like he was targeting the Freak?

Back in early February (2020), the Freak had made a hysterical comment on James Harden. While selecting the team for Team Giannis, the Bucks forward was confused regarding his pick for the crucial point guard position. Giannis showed his interest in either Celtics’ Kemba Walker or Hawks’ Trae Young. 

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Jun 19, 2021; James Harden shoots over Giannis Antetokounmpo during game seven in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

He disregarded James Harden, who was still up for grabs. This made the trio in host Charles Barkley, captain James , and Giannis chuckle. Then, the Freak added, “I want somebody that’s gonna pass the ball, that’s all I want.”

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Clearly, the Bucks forward was taking a dig at Harden’s habit of keeping the ball to himself during most offensive plays. However, until that point in the season, the Rockets leader was #9 in APG while Kemba was #36. It is this comment by the Bucks’ leader that irritated The Beard.

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Nevertheless, it seems like Antetokounmpo isn’t interested in creating a ruckus for no reason. And both players will look to keep things competitive and professional. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Sourabh Singh

1695 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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