James Harden didn’t think Giannis Antetokounmpo’s joke about him was all that funny.
In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, the Rockets star offered a strong response to Antetokounmpo’s comments from the 2020 NBA All-Star Draft. When Harden was still available to pick, the reigning MVP said he was stuck choosing between Kemba Walker and Trae Young. TNT’s Charles Barkley asked why Antetokounmpo didn’t want “The Dribbler,” meaning Harden, and Antetokounmpo responded, “I want somebody that’s going to pass the ball.”
He eventually chose Walker, leaving Harden for LeBron James’ squad.
Nichols referred to the “stereotypes” surrounding Harden’s game and Antetokounmpo’s little jab, and Harden quickly shot them down.
“I average more assists than [Walker], I think,” Harden said. “I don’t see what the joke is. But I didn’t even see it. I don’t pay attention to stuff like that. I just know none of them can mess with me.”
Harden is averaging 7.3 assists per game, good for ninth in the NBA. Walker is far behind him at 5.0, the best mark on the Celtics but just 37th in the league overall. Walker (50.6) only throws two more passes per game than Harden (48.6), according to NBA.com tracking data.
James Harden addresses the comments Giannis made during the All-Star draft about assists: “I average more assists him than him, I think….I don’t see what the joke is.”
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) February 28, 2020
But Harden wasn’t done.
He went directly at Antetokounmpo and targeted the lack of “skill” in his game.
“I wish I could just run, [be] 7 feet and run and just dunk,” Harden said. “Like, that takes no skill at all. I gotta actually learn how to play basketball, how to have skill. I’ll take that any day.”
You can watch the full interview below. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the Bucks and Rockets next meet on March 25 in Milwaukee.
Antetokounmpo didn’t escalate in an interview with ESPN on Friday before the Bucks’ game vs. the Thunder, saying there’s “hasn’t been a back and forth.” He added that he has “never tried to take stabs at somebody. Maybe sometimes it might come out like that.”
“There’s not back and forth. … At the end of the day, if that’s what [James Harden] believes, that’s what he believes.”
—Giannis Antetokounmpo on James Harden’s comments about him pic.twitter.com/92XoqMxeGU
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 29, 2020
He then went out and put up this line: