Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry both had the opportunity to take down the Boston Celtics in the playoffs last season. After his team came up short on the road in Game 7 and the Golden State Warriors won the title on Boston’s home floor, the Milwaukee Bucks superstar knows exactly who should be considered the best player in the world.
The notoriously humble Antetokounmpo, unsurprisingly, believes Curry enters 2022-23 owning that title. Why? As Antetokounmpo told reporters at Bucks Media Day on Sunday, the top player on the reigning NBA champion always warrants that distinction, just like he did entering last season after leading Milwaukee to its first title in 40 years.
“Do I believe I help my team and teammates get better? Yeah I do. Do I believe I’m the best player in the world? No. Thats the last one standing,” Antetokounmpo said, per Bucks studio host Justin Garcia. “Two years ago, yeah. But in my opinion the winner in the best…I believe the best player in the world is Steph Curry until the next player does it.”
“I believe that the best in the world is Steph Curry.”
-Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks Media Day 2022 pic.twitter.com/C3Detw15NR
— WarriorsMuse (@WarriorsMuse) September 25, 2022
Don’t blame Antetokounmpo for Milwaukee’s loss to Boston, by the way.
He was singularly dominant against the Celtics’ historically elite defense in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, averaging 33.9 points, 14.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game despite the Bucks playing without the injured Khris Middleton. An exhausted Antetokounmpo fell flat in Game 7, though, struggling to finish around the paint as Boston loaded up to the rim to stop him.
Curry is a much different player than Antetokounmpo, obviously, and posed an even bigger threat to the Celtics’ defense en route to winning his first NBA Finals MVP award. Not only was he virtually unstoppable in ball-screen and isolation situations, but Curry’s incessant movement off the ball routinely created easy scoring opportunities for his teammates.
There’s much debate on the game’s best all-around player as another NBA season dawns, but it’s tough to argue the case of Antetokounmpo or Curry. Both have real claims to basketball’s individual throne that no one else in the league can currently match.
Here’s hoping Antetokounmpo and Curry get to fight for it directly come June in a dream NBA Finals matchup of recent champions.