For Giannis Antetokounmpo, it was just another day at the office. Sadly, the same goes for Ben Simmons, but for an entirely different reason.
Giannis' statement vs. Nets
Giannis continued his late-season push for his third MVP award, following a 40-point performance in a statement game against Joel Embiid and the 76ers. Kevin Durant-led Nets were next on his list, and once again, the statement was made.
The Greek Freak dropped 44 points on 14-for-21 from the floor, along with 14 rebounds and 6 assists. He shot 1-for-4 from deep and 15-for-19 from the free-throw line, two of which secured the Bucks' 120-119 OT victory in Brooklyn. The defending champs have now clinched a return to the postseason and are only a half-game behind the Miami Heat for the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Antetokounmpo came into the game 39 points behind the Bucks' all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (14,211). He passed him with a stepback three with 18.7 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 110 apiece.
"It's good because I'm changing the narrative," Giannis said after the game. "I don't want to be the guy only that dunks and runs. I can make a three."
Difference between Simmons and Giannis
Meanwhile, the Nets' 6-11 all-around star continues his rehab as the team keeps their hopes alive that he might actually return to action this season. It's been 285 days since Simmons last played in an NBA game, and there's still no firm timetable for his comeback.
But even when he does return, we all know what to expect from Ben, perhaps even to a lesser degree given how long he's been out. He's an All-NBA level defender, a great playmaker, one of the league's best transition players, but no threat to score in the half-court due to his lack of a jump shot.
Giannis was the same type of talent -- physically gifted but raw and with less natural feel for the game. But he never allowed himself to stagnate. Four seasons into his NBA career, it seems that's all Simmons has been doing. And he seems to be ok with it.
It's still not too late for Ben to change the narrative around him. Because, whether guys admit it or not, the outside noise matters, and no one can stay away from it. Simmons is no different -- he may be even less immune to everything people are saying about him. And that's ok, as long as he learns to use it as motivation.
Giannis did it, and he's the best player in the world about to go on a quest for his second straight NBA championship. Simmons should also do it, at least to the extent his personality allows him to.
The alternative is much worse, and 275 NBA games played is good enough of a sample size to prove it.