Shaq Bestows Giannis Antetokounmpo With 'Superman' Nickname

Shaq loves Giannis Antetokounmpo, particularly his inside game. That's why the former NBA "Superman" is handing the over his cherished nickname.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Image via Getty/Gary Dineen/NBAE

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The NBA's new Man of Steel plays in Milwaukee and comes from overseas, so says basketball's original Superman (at least according to him), Shaq. Except, Giannis Anteotokounmpo already has a nickname, albeit one that veers a bit too close to a pejorative from an X-Men movie. The "Greek Freak" was praised by O'Neal on Stephen A. Smith's ESPN Radio show, and the Big Aristotle is giving up his self-bestowed moniker to the Bucks star "with honor and pleasure." 

So what traits earned Antetokounmpo Shaq's co-sign? Well, his brilliance scoring the ball among the trees in the paint, where Giannis spends most of his time certainly has something to do with it.

"I've never given my name up before, but I'm giving it to him," O'Neal told Smith. "He's the new Superman. You heard it here first. I didn't hit no 3-pointer either, but he's dominating and that's what I like. He's dominating in the paint. You taking it to the hole. You throwing it down. You ain't shooting no flip shots."

Shaq continued, "I don't want to encourage big guys to shoot jumpers and 3-pointers. Stay your big ass on the inside and dominate like you been doing. So I denounce myself as Superman and I'm giving to the 'Greek Freak.' You heard it here first."

So far this season, Giannis is averaging 27.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, all career highs. Not only that, but with Mike Budenholzer at the helm, the Bucks are second in the East at 15-6.

O'Neal's tone is drastically different from when Dwight Howard claimed the Superman designation and even rocked the tights and cape for the NBA's Dunk Contest. That beef over the nickname continues to this day, and there's a decent chance that Shaq turning the nickname over to Giannis is an effort to annoy Howard even more. However, there's one thing most NBA insiders agree with O'Neal about after the 2018-19 NBA season's first quarter of play.

"The Greek Freak is the MVP right now," O'Neal said. 

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