Brooklyn, NY — It’s a Sunday night, the NCAA brackets are out in leaked and actual form causing all sorts of social media buzz and two teams not headed for the playoffs are playing.
Surely there’s nothing compelling going on when the Milwaukee Bucks are playing the Brooklyn Nets while the rest of the sports world is focused on college basketball.
Then it begins.
It’s early in the second quarter and Giannis Antetokounmpo gets a defensive rebound at the foul line. He bolts down the court before you can sip your drink or take a bite of your food. Next thing you know he’s at the other foul line and faking a pass…and then comes the liftoff.
The end is a nasty dunk sending defenders scrambling to get out of the way and fans are out of their seats in awe:
In recent weeks, especially since Antetokounmpo has evolved into a point forward, fans have been getting awestruck at some of these things, and he’s now up to 118 dunks this year after getting 96 last year and 61 as a rookie.
In the edited version of “It was a Good Day,” Ice Cube says he messed around and got a triple-double. In the last three weeks, Antetokounmpo isn’t messing around unless it’s breaking down the defenders, and he’s getting a triple-double once every three games.
If you listened to any of his teammates Sunday night in Brooklyn, this isn’t all shocking.
“At this point when you see (Giannis) every day, nothing he does surprises me,” Greg Monroe said. “He is physically gifted and that’s a play maybe one or two other people in the league can make.”
“It’s special,” Jabari Parker said. “I always want to see my teammates succeed. So I want to milk that cow as much as possible.”
Up until Feb. 22, Antetokounmpo had played 212 games, and while he had his share of double-doubles, he never filled up a third category with double figures. Then he became a point forward and the highlights are occurring nightly while he averages 20.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists on 50.5 percent shooting.
Those are great numbers in a short span of games, even if Antetokounmpo was modest about it during his postgame interview.
“I was just trying to make the right plays and find my teammates,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about (a triple-double). I was just thinking about getting the win.”
The run of triple-doubles began on Feb. 22 in Kobe Bryant’s last visit to Milwaukee. Those there to watch Bryant witnessed the initial triple-double when he passed to Michael Carter-Williams with 75 seconds remaining.
Three games later it happened again in a wild 128-121 win over the Houston Rockets. The milestone was achieved on a pass to Jerryd Bayless with two-and-a-half minutes remaining.
But why stop at two triple-doubles?
Three games later came the third triple-double in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The feat was completed when he made the pass on a Parker finger roll.
And then came history for a franchise who’s employed Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Neither player ever had four in a single season, but Antetokounmpo now has it.
It nearly happened at halftime, but the suspense lingered into the fourth quarter. Finally it happened following a Brook Lopez miss in a tie game, and the next thing you knew the Bucks had moved ahead like a blur.
“Tonight he was able to do everything,” Jason Kidd said. “When he started the game, I thought he did the best of setting the pace and it was very fast.”
Like at the speed of light or in this case at the speed of Antetokounmpo, which is like ludicrous speed in the 1987 comedy “Spaceballs.”
The season has been a washout for the Bucks, but you can envision why expectations were so high. They may have taken a step back, but perhaps they’re on their way to liftoff, especially whenever Antetokounmpo is barreling down the court.