Everyone loves a good countdown list, particularly when it comes to great moments in NBA history!
Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered one of those moments in Game 4 against Phoenix, with an iconic block on Denadre Ayton.
Milwaukee went on to win the game, levelling the series at 2-2, adding to the magnitude of the moment. With that in mind, let's rank the top three blocks in NBA Finals history and see where Antetokounmpo falls.
3. 1994 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Game 6 vs. New York
In @budweiserusa #LegendaryMoments history... we showcase @HoustonRockets Center Hakeem Olajuwon's game-sealing block to force a Game 7 in the 1994 #NBAFinals! pic.twitter.com/LrViK22jia- NBA (@NBA) June 25, 2019
Look away Knicks fans.
Trailing 86-84, the Knicks had a chance to clinch the title on a last second shot attempt.
Drawing a switch onto Hakeem Olajuwon, Knicks guard John Starks appeared to shake loose for an open 3-point attempt. That was of course until Olajuwon miraculously recovered to get a hand on the ball as he released. The shot ultimately fell well short and the Rockets would win the game.
Houston would continue on to win Game 7, denying the Knicks a Championship. Olajuwon's block put them in position to do so. Given it was an elimination game, Olajuwon could feel hard done by to slot in at No. 3 here, but it was impossible to not have the next two at the top of the tree.
2. 2021 - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Game 4 vs. Phoenix
Using his incredible defensive instincts, length, and athleticism, Giannis Antetokounmpo recovered and met Ayton way up to make his game-saving block! #NBABreakdown- NBA (@NBA) July 17, 2021
Game 5: Saturday at 9pm/et on ABC pic.twitter.com/ik6uD32qgY
Out of all the blocks on this list, the Antetokounmpo one is by far the most ridiculous.
Stepping up to defend the penetrating Devin Booker, Antetokounmpo uses a mix of basketball IQ, athleticism and his freakish length to show and still recover in time to meet Deandre Ayton at the summit.
It's impossible to imagine there is another player that could make this play cleanly, as Antetokounmpo delivered one of the most clutch defensive plays in NBA history.
"I thought I was going to get dunked on, to be honest with you," said Antetokounmpo. "Going down the stretch, you just do whatever it takes the win the game."
1. 2016 - LeBron James, Game 7 vs. Golden State
#1 | TOP 20 #Mobil1Blocks of 2010s- NBA (@NBA) December 30, 2019
👑 "OH, BLOCKED BY JAMES!" 👑
The block heard around the world... @KingJames sprints back for the RIDICULOUS CHASEDOWN, helping the @cavs win their first-ever championship in 2016! pic.twitter.com/jKxlDXVI9h
I'm going to go on the record here and say that I do believe the Antetokounmpo dunk is by far the most impressive but given LeBron's came in the final minutes of a Game 7 he has to get the nod....for now.
Trailing 3-1 earlier in the series, James had carried the Cavaliers all the way to a Game 7 on the road. In a low scoring, grind it out game, the championship was still in the balance late in the fourth quarter.
With the scores tied, Steph Curry found a streaking Andre Iguodala for what appeared to be a wide open lay-up. That was of course until James came flying in front behind to pin the ball against the glass for J.R. Smith to recover.
LeBron has a long history of chase down blocks, but none came at a moment as big as this, with Cleveland going on to win a historic NBA title. IF the Bucks go on to win the title in 2021, I may just change my rankings when it's all said and done..
LeBron and Giannis do it again
If we were to extend the countdown, there is a fair chance LeBron and Giannis would feature for a second time, with the duo having another pair of jaw dropping swats.
James emphatically denied Tiago Splitter in Game 2 of the 2013 Finals with the Spurs big man looking to throw it down with ferocity.
🗓️June 9, 2013: 7 years ago today...- The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) June 9, 2020
LeBron James met Tiago Splitter at the rim.
🗣️ "Oh what a block from James!"
The Heat would win Game 2 of the Finals 103-84 covering (-6.5) easily. pic.twitter.com/TQLdQTbjjg
Antetokounmpo may have only played in four Finals games in his career, but this chase down block in Game 1 on Mikal Bridges is one that will be replayed for many years to come. It was even more impressive when you consider he was doubtful to play at all given he had just suffered a hyper extended knee a week earlier in the Conference Finals.
What a chase-down block by Giannis! 🤯- theScore (@theScore) July 7, 2021
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