The NBA has taken one night to turn on reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo after the man who signed the biggest contract in the sport’s history couldn’t get it done on opening night.
Forget the fact he played 36 minutes, had 35 points and 13 rebounds for his Milwaukee Bucks, the final second of the match proved crucial as he couldn’t save the day against the Boston Celtics in a 122-121 game.
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With under 10 seconds remaining and the score at 120-119 to the Bucks, Celtics star Jayson Tatum got the ball.
But fresh off signing the biggest contract in NBA history — a $A301m supermax deal — just last week, Giannis switched on to the young superstar to make it essentially a one-on-one battle.
And Tatum showed he has what it takes, shooting a step back three over Giannis and banking it off the glass and in.
The crowd and the commentators went wild as it left just 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
Tatum hit six three pointers for the night and scored 30 points in the game.
But despite less than a second left, the Bucks still drew a free throw with Giannis going to the line.
After nailing his first shot, his second bounced off the rim and away, consigning the Bucks to a first up loss.
But while he led the Bucks back into the game after starting the final quarter 17 points down, social media appeared to turn on the two-time MVP.
Tatum said he wanted the ball in moments like that, but admitted he “played terrible.
“Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be in that position,” Tatum said.
“I don’t know what my field goal percentage was, but I know I played terrible. But it’s a team game. Everybody contributed. It’s the first one of the season, so it felt good to get a win.”
STAR’S HEARTBREAKING TRIBUTE TO MUM
Number one draft pick Anthony Edwards came off the bench to score 15 points for Minnesota and the Timberwolves rallied for a 111-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Malik Beasley led the Timberwolves with 23 points. Karl-Anthony Towns added 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, his three-pointer with 3:06 to play giving Minnesota their first lead of the game 98-97.
But post-game, Towns paid tribute to his mother, who died on April 13 due to complications due to COVID-19.
Speaking to Fox, he revealed what he would do with the game ball.
“It meant a lot, selfishly for me it meant a lot,” he said. “I know my dad’s watching — I love you dad, I appreciate you, thank you for everything you’ve given me. You’ve given me this gift, I’m sending this to you,” he said holding up the game ball.
“I’m going to send it to my dad and put it next to my mum.”
Towns looked down as he said it, admitting it was heavy to play after he loss.
Her death has deeply affected the star as he told reporters earlier in the week “That Karl died on April 13. He ain’t coming back. You’re talking to the physical me … That man you’re talking about from April 13 or before, I don’t know him. He ain’t there.”
— w ith AFP
COVID-19 POSTPONES ROCKETS-THUNDER
COVID-19 precautions forced the first postponement of the NBA season on just the second day of action Wednesday as the Houston Rockets’ home game against Oklahoma City was called off.
The league said three Rockets players had returned coronavirus tests that were either positive or inconclusive.
Four other Rockets players had also been quarantined due to contact tracing measures and star James Harden was ruled out after a protocol violation. With one injured player as well, the Rockets did not have the required eight players available for the game.
“The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tonight between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols,” the NBA said in a statement.
The postponement was the last thing the league was hoping for on the second day of the season when a full slate of 13 games were scheduled.
ESPN reported Wednesday that the league were investigating Harden for a possible violation of protocols after video surfaced on social media that apparently showed him at a club without wearing a mask.
Harden – who was a late arrival at training camp and has been at the centre of reports that he has demanded a trade – issued a statement on Instagram, denying the video shows him at a strip club but acknowledging he was at an event.
“One thing after another,” Harden wrote. “I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in position of success and now it’s a problem.
“Everyday it’s something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t.”
Apparently, however, the league’s investigation found he had violated rules prohibiting players from attending gatherings of more than 15 people.