MILWAUKEE — Fans across the world got to witness perhaps one of the biggest blocks in Bucks history all courtesy of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The NBA says video of Giannis’ block has already been seen more than 24 million times on social media, making it the most watched social video of the 2021 NBA Finals to date. The viral moment has Bucks fans and players making the argument that it could be the greatest block in Finals history.
With less than 80 seconds in the game and the Bucks holding onto a 2-point lead, it took just one second from the time the ball left Devin Booker’s hand to when Giannis went above the rim to swat away a potentially game-tying dunk. Bucks fans are reveling in the moment that Steve Johnson believes shifted the Finals in the Bucks favor.
"I think that was series-changing,” he said. “I think that was a big block that made the series look bright."
During a post-game interview, Giannis remained humble as usual in his self-analysis.
“Just a hustle play,” he said. “I thought, 'I'm going to get dunked on’, to be honest with you."
Teammate Pat Connaughton said the block left him in awe while on the court.
“It’s, in my opinion, the best block of all time,” Connaughton said. “Obviously, we’re a little biased and you can talk about the LeBron block as well, but as far as a block where he was covering the pick and roll, he had to judge where the pass was, where (Deandre) Ayton was catching it and trying to dunk it above the box. It’s about as impressive as you can get.”
Kristian O’Connor is a UW-Milwaukee professor who studies sports-related injuries and the performance side of the game. He said Giannis covered 15’ of court space before going vertical 11’ in the air with textbook technique all thanks to size and speed.
"You'll see his leg that he was driving upwards, he brings it all the way down by his other leg so both toes are pointing down,” O’Connor said. “When he drives his arms up, he brings his one arm down so see can reach a little bit higher. So all of those things got him another inch or two that it took to get up to block that shot."
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For a superstar whose status for the Finals was questionable just hours before the series started, O’Connor believes Giannis’ quick recovery from a hyper-extended knee is the most awe-worthy storyline of this championship run.
“I’d have to imagine it was still bothering him and I don't know that he would admit to it, but there's probably some residual pain that he's playing through,” O’Connor said. “So, I think a normal person probably would've taken a lot longer than a week off."