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Giannis Antetokounmpo a bench player in my era

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Knicks legend Charles Oakley doesn’t think Giannis Antetokounmpo is much of a freak. 

Oakley came out firing on a recent SLAM Magazine podcast, saying that Antetokounmpo would have come off the bench if he played in Oakley’s era of the late 1980s and throughout the ’90s.

“He wouldn’t have been a force back in the day,” Oakley said. “… He would have struggled, they would make him shoot jump shots. He wouldn’t be doing a Euro step to the basket, somebody’s gonna knock his head off. He’d come off the bench back in the day.”

Antetokounmpo has won two MVP awards and led the Bucks to their first championship since 1971 last season.

That is, evidently, not good enough for Oakley.

Giannis Antetokounmpo during the Bucks’ loss to the Nets on Feb. 26, 2022.
Charles Oakley arrives on the red carpet for the film "The Carter Effect" at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 9, 2017.
Charles Oakley

Ironically, though, this is Oakley’s opinion after, he admits, Antetokounmpo proved his skepticism wrong.

“He’s doing his thing. I was skeptical because he couldn’t make a jump shot [or] free throw,” Oakley said. “After what he did last year, he done won me over.”

We’ll have to assume that Oakley doesn’t believe just about any player in the modern era could hang in the ’90s. He’s certainly not the first former player to hold that opinion, though Oakley’s own inside game suggests he might struggle in today’s game.

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