NEW YORK – Giannis Antetokounmpo wants this one.
As he’s worked his way up the numbers and made his way through each of the Milwaukee Bucks and NBA history in recent seasons, he’s allowed himself to briefly identify the moment before moving beyond it. But – but – never got too far before. It was the mental strain that made him comfortable.
However, this one is different.
“It’s cool,” he admitted a few games before he broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s franchise scoring record Thursday night with a three-pointer over Brooklyn center Andre Drummond with 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The shot tied the score, 110-110.
He then hit two game-winning free throws in a 120-119 extra-time win at Barclays Center.
“How many points are 14,000s? Oh! I’m a bucket! I’m a bucket! This is fun, you know?”
So much so that he had a scene playing in his head about how he wanted it to be.
“Maybe they won’t. This is what it is. I wanna be like, you know when Kobe graduated MJ? The whole game stops and he takes the ball and he’s like…”
He raised his hands high, cupping the imaginary ball, and he turned slowly to recognize the imaginary crowd.
“I want to do the same.”
Unfortunately, the game operations crew in Brooklyn didn’t mark the moment for him, and the ball was still in play.
Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA all-time scoring list on the road in Minnesota on December 14, 2014 with a pair of free throws. During the stoppage, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor then handed the ball to Bryant, who held it high for the crowd before returning it to the Lakers bench.
Antetokounmpo needed 652 games in nine seasons to surpass Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 14,211, set in 467 games over six seasons from 1969-1975. Three-pointers didn’t enter the NBA until 1979, so all of Abdul-Jabbar’s points came through two-point field goals (5,902) and free throws (2,407).
“Geez, that’s crazy,” said Bucks center Brook Lopez, who came to the league in 2008 as a post-oriented center. He only attempted 7 three-pointers in his first six years scoring 6,168 for the record points total he set with the Nets.
He couldn’t gather his thoughts anymore as he continued to laugh at Abdul-Jabbar in total.
“That’s so crazy. There is no three-point line. I mean… that’s… wow. 14,000 in six? That’s crazy. That… you can’t believe the numbers. It’s wild.”
Antetokounmpo surpassed the mark in his ninth year with 14th basket of the night. After a 44-point effort, he has made 4,704 two-point field goals, 445 three-pointers and 3,473 free throws and sits at 14,216 points.
Both men were 27 years old when they set the record.
And I think that’s how it’s going to look,” said Hall of Famer Bob Dandridge, who played his first six seasons with Abdul-Jabbar. “There is nothing more significant in the history of a football club. Unless Giannis can sneak in there and win another championship or two, then he might emerge above Kareem!”
“We’ll see. But Giannis is definitely a tremendous credit to this organization.”