Giannis Antetokounmpo rebounds his own intentionally missed shot to notch triple-double
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished Sunday night’s win over the Washington Wizards with his 35th career triple-double. But the manner in which he accomplished it was more hilarious than impressive.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ big man was one rebound short in the waning seconds of the 117-111 win with 23 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds. And rather than run out the clock after he grabbed his ninth board, Antetokounmpo strolled briskly back to the basket, purposely missed a lay-up and snagged his 10th rebound to secure the triple-double.
It was Antetokounmpo’s fourth of the season, well behind Denver Nuggets star and MVP favorite Nikola Jokic, who has 25 this season. Luka Doncic, Domantas Sabonis and Ja Morant are all ahead of Antetokounmpo in the triple-double department, who is also tied with James Harden and Russell Westbrook with four on the season.
After the game, Antetokounmpo said he decided not to score just so the Bucks could keep possession before the final buzzer sounded.
“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.”
Antetokounmpo’s situation similar to others
This isn’t the first time a player tried to earn a triple-double this way.
Atlanta Hawks guard Bob Sura had his triple-double rescinded by the NBA in 2004 less than a day after his game after he rebounded his own intentionally missed shot as well. The NBA claimed that because Sura’s shot wasn’t legitimate (because he missed on purpose) he couldn’t be given a rebound.
“I’m disappointed that my attempt to turn my third triple-double caused so much controversy,” Sura said at the time. “It was never my intention to make a mockery of our sport and to take any attention away 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 tried to do almost 20 years ago to the day. Davis took an inbound pass on the Cavaliers’ side of the court and threw a shot off his own basket to catch the rebound for his first-career triple-double almost 20 years ago.
Obviously, shots on a team’s own basket don’t count as a field goal attempt, and therefore the subsequent rebound didn’t count. Even worse, Davis was immediately fouled by Utah Jazz guard DeShawn Steveson after the attempt, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said he “would have knocked [Davis] on his ass,” and the Cavaliers fined Davis an undisclosed amount.
Antetokounmpo didn’t get the same vitriol as Sura or Davis — yet — but it did re-open the NBA’s stat padding conversation ignited by ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins in February. Perkins claimed that Jokic, the MVP frontrunner, passed more to inflate his stats and get more triple-doubles. But after Antetokounmpo’s intentional miss-and-rebound Sunday night, Perkins tweeted “every player padded their stats at some point during their career.”