MILWAUKEE -- When was released earlier this month, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo stood alone at No. 1. Such lists are more for the fans and media rather than the players, but at Milwaukee's media day on Sunday, Giannis weighed in with his own thoughts.
"Do I believe that I'm one of the best players in the league in the way I help my team be great and win games? "Yeah I do," Giannis said. "I'm mature enough, I'm old enough to understand that. Do I believe I'm the best in the world? No. I think the best player in the world is the person that is the last one standing, the person that takes his team to the finish line and helps them win games and become champion.
"Two years ago when we did that, yeah, when I was sleeping in my bad I was like 'Ah yeah, maybe I'm the best player in the world.' But now, no. In my opinion, the way I view it, the winner is the best. The guy who wins is the best... I believe that the best player in the world is Steph Curry until the next player."
The Warriors, coincidentally enough, were also having their media days on Sunday. Curry was asked about Giannis' comments and also had a diplomatic response.
"I don't know if it was gamesmanship to set the table for -- I would say the same thing when you're facing the champions," Curry said. "That's part of like the nature of the league. We all want to win the championship, and when you look at the team that's the last team standing and who was playing the best, I was thinking the same thing about him last year, coming off their run.
"So I appreciate the compliment. It's not going to soften me up to get complacent at all. But you do appreciate the respect of your peers to say stuff like that, and I've been in the situation where I'm complimenting guys around the league a lot as well."
As Giannis noted, he is, at worst, one of the best players in the world. He put up 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.4 blocks per game last season. He is the only player in league history to officially average at least 29 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and one block, and he's done so twice in his career. A dominant physical force who cares more the craft and improving than perhaps anyone else in the league, he will remain an MVP candidate for years to come.
But he is not currently the defending champion, and his argument -- however self serving for his image -- that Curry has the top spot as the best player on the best team is certainly valid. For what it's worth, Curry came in at No. 2 on CBS Sports' list, so it's not as if we had him too far behind.