Giannis Antetokounmpo Says James Harden is Hardest NBA Player to Guard

Michael Shapiro

Perhaps the rivalry between James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming to an end. 

The reigning MVP threw some love Harden's way during an Instagram Live video on Thursday, with Antetokounmpo deeming Harden as the NBA's hardest player to guard.

The relationship between the last two MVPs hasn't always been cordial. Antetokounmpo threw some shade at Harden after the All-Star Game, telling the media that his team was targeting Harden on the defensive end down the stretch. Harden got the best of Team Giannis in the exhibition, as the 2017-18 MVP forced a slate of missed jumpers down the stretch in a Team LeBron earned a narrow victory.

Harden was asked for his thoughts about Antetokounmpo on Feb. 28, and he added brief fuel to the fire.

"I wish I could just run and be 7 feet and just dunk. Like that takes no skill at all," Harden told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "I gotta actually learn how to play basketball, how to have skill. I take that any day."

Giannis thwarted Harden's bid for back-to-back MVPs last season. The Bucks forward won 78% of first place votes to win his first MVP, and Antetokounmpo appears to be on his way to a second MVP this season. Antetokounmpo led a media MVP poll conducted by ESPN on March 23, winning 60 of 70 first-place votes. LeBron James finished second in the poll, while Harden finished third.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per game this season, and Milwaukee sports the NBA's best record at 53–12. Harden leads the league with 34.4 points per game, and he's on track to become just the sixth player since 1960 to win three consecutive scoring titles.