What You DON'T Know About The Giannis & Harden Rivalry In The NBA (Ft. No Skill, Dribbling, MVPs)
Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden have been throwing shots, there’s an NBA rivalry so let’s breakdown Giannis vs Harden. #NBA #Giannis #Harden
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This all starts in 2014, a meaningless regular season game in November of 2014. The Bucks are down big, Harden is doing his thing and commits an offensive foul on Giannis. Giannis immediately gets up and starts talking to Harden, pretty aggressively. Then he knocks the ball out of Harden’s hands, Harden pushes Giannis while talking, and eventually good old Larry Sanders steps in which leads some shoving, pushing, and probably cursing. Harden continues to talk to Giannis later on. Larry Sanders was in the NBA during this time, wow the nostalgia.
So really there wasn’t anything to make of it other than frustrations and some trash talk. The next game they played on February 6, 2015 and it was normal. Giannis dropped a career high, the Rockets won by 6. This was during Jason Kidd was coaching and experimenting with Giannis at point guard. There were no altercations, no trash talk, nothing. The only real notable thing was that the Bucks were constantly double teaming Harden even at half-court, but still no real tension.
Then, this happened. If Giannis did this on purpose, well props to him man that’s some skill right there. It seemed that Giannis wanted to rifle the pass but held onto the ball a little too long so the angle of the pass changed. Giannis said it was by accident, Harden wished he could have seen it, this was in January of 2019.
There’s the whole MVP saga that shouldn’t be ignored. Giannis and Harden were the frontrunners for MVP for the 2018-19 season. Harden dropped insane numbers, averaging 36 a game. Giannis led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA on 27 and 12. Giannis would win MVP, but the interaction between the two wasn’t as pleasant. Most of the time, players in the MVP race tend to be cordial towards each other in front of the media at least. Giannis a few months later in October of 2019 still had to defend winning the MVP saying “That’s their opinion.” and also that the trophy is in his house. It’s weird to be defending an MVP months after, but then again nothing is normal about Harden and Giannis. While both distribute and have some fancy footwork for finishes, it’s such a clash of styles, one guard that isolates and dances on the perimeter, one who’s a 6’11 power forward that drives to the rim, powering through his opponents.
In this regular season, the Bucks and Rockets had a good game, nothing extra despite the hostility between Harden and Giannis. Harden acted as if a bowling ball was falling on him when Giannis airballed a three. Giannis blocked the life out of Harden. Harden drew a foul on Giannis that got Giannis aggravated.
Now is the All-Star saga. Giannis is drafting and I’m just going to roll the clip. First of all, I’m not sure what Giannis was trying to do with his team, I just, what. Charles Barkley definitely brought on the joke, Giannis played along to the stereotype that Harden holds on to the ball, but Giannis kind of brought that energy in there when he said he was trying to pick between Trae and Kemba leaving Harden out.
After the All-Star game, Giannis went out and told the media that their plan for the last few possessions was. Still, Giannis didn’t have to be so blatant with a serious face and take a shot at Harden, again playing to the no defense stereotype.
Harden didn’t really respond until his interview with Rachel Nichols on February 28 in which he responded to both the passing allegations and then took a shot at Giannis. (roll the clip). Harden made some good points, Giannis might have joked around in the draft, but it was coming from some sort of perception of Harden. The whole skill thing… yeah that was outta pocket but Harden was trying to show how he’s had to really work hard at the game and develop his craft while Giannis has been given a lot of his gifts which is also unfair because Giannis has worked extremely hard.
And so here we are today, once again Giannis and Harden are in MVP conversations although this time it’s pretty clear that Giannis should win. He’s averaging 30 points in 31 minutes. This rivalry between the two of the best players in the world, it’s exciting for the league. But what do you think? Who’s winning MVP? Who’s making the finals?