Giannis is achieving greatness faster than Jordan or LeBron originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It was four years ago when Kevin Durant said something about Giannis Antetokounmpo that opened a lot of eyes about his potential. This was before Antetokounmpo was a two-time league MVP and, as of Wednesday night, an NBA champion.
Durant said Antetokounmpo has a chance to be the greatest basketball player of all-time.
“His ceiling is probably ... he could end up being the best player to ever play if he really wanted to. That's pretty scary to think about," Durant said.
Durant, of course, is an all-time great himself, probably a top-20 or top-30 player in NBA history, objectively. So for him to share that type of praise about another player means something.
Well, Antetkounmpo is starting to back that up, as in the time since he's put together a list of accomplishments very few have ever had and especially at his age. At 26 years old, he is already one of only five players to win a title, two MVPs and a defensive player of the year award in their entire careers. The others are Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett and David Robinson.
Antetokounmpo, though, is the youngest. By 26, Jordan had the MVPs and the defensive player of the year award, but he didn't win a ring until he was 28. LeBron James had the MVPs, but not the defensive player of the year trophy and he didn't win his first title until he was 27.
Jordan and James are by all accounts among the greatest players ever, arguably one and two, and Antetokounmpo is two years ahead of them winning his first ring. He is now a certified all-time great right in the middle of his prime.
But really, he may not have even peaked yet, as Wednesday was the best performance of his career and it just happened. He became the first player in NBA history to have at least 50-plus points, 10-plus rebounds and 5-plus blocks in a postseason game.
None of this is to say Antetokounmpo will definitely end up surpassing Jordan and James. He needs to win far more than one championship to even start that conversation. And if you compare numbers to this point, their first eight NBA seasons, both Jordan and James had scored thousands more points than Antetokounmpo has in his career.
But for all the debate of which young player in the NBA would become the king of the league once James' career winds down, Antetokounmpo has ended that discussion and he's going places much quicker than legends who came before him.