Step aside, LeBron— Giannis is the new king of the East

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Neil Erickson, Sports Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






“People can’t even pronounce his name, there’s no way he becomes an All-Star,” I told my friend Ben back in 2013. “I don’t even think I’ve seen him play before.”  

“I’ll slap bet you that he makes an All-Star team someday.”

“Ok bet, there’s literally no way this twig without a jump shot is doing anything in the league,” I said foolishly.

I had no idea how wrong I was about the Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Needless to say, I lost the bet.

Antetokounmpo made his first All-Star team in only his fourth season in the NBA.

Flash forward to today and Antetokounmpo, the greek freak, superman, the human alphabet, or whatever you want to call him, is taking over the league.  

This year he is having an MVP caliber season.

With 27.7 points, 5.9 assists and 12.5 rebounds a game, he’s setting new team highs in every category.

Antetokounmpo lead his team to the best record in the NBA (60-22), and now he is charging through the playoffs beginning by leading his team to the second highest point differential in a sweep in playoff history.

Oh yeah, and he’s only 24 years old.

This is the year of Giannis, and he’s stepping up right when the NBA needs him the most.

Something is missing this year in the NBA Playoffs, and he goes by King James.

Typically the passage to the Finals through the East is blocked by the King.

After eight straight finals appearances, three titles and making the entire Toronto Raptors franchise look like a high school JV team year after year, LeBron has moved on to the Los Angeles Lakers in the West, a team that ended the season 20 games behind the Warriors.

With the absence of James, we have to ask, is Giannis going to take his place as gatekeeper of the East?

At 24, Giannis is looking to win his first career NBA MVP award.

When LeBron was 24 he won the NBA scoring title, made his first All-Star team, and carried his team to the NBA finals where they were eventually swept by the dominant San Antonio Spurs.

However, it’s not going to be a walk in the park for Giannis to come out of the East this year.

He still has to face off against Boston in the next round, who just swept the Indiana Pacers.

If he can topple the Celtics, he still has to face of against either the Sixers led by Joel Embiid, or the Raptors lead by the newly added Kawhi Leonard.

And if he can manage to make it through the East, the likely opponent is none other than the Golden State Warriors lead by two MVPs, a defensive player of the year, and one of the most lethal shooters the league has ever seen.

This is the biggest test Giannis has ever faced.

Will he take his team to the finals and win his first NBA championship?

Or will he fail to even get there?

Now is the time for Giannis to solidify himself as the new king of the East, and it’s about time we start learning how to pronounce his name.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email