As ‘Ant-Man,’ NBA star Anthony Edwards is the new heir apparent to Air Jordan

By greatbritton

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

The king is (nearly) dead.

Long live the (next) king.

LeBron James is still among us and he still commands a lion’s share of NBA attention. But successors to his throne are circling, particularly in Minnesota, where 22-year-old Anthony Edwards is introducing himself to the public at large. “Ant-Man” is here, and he’s looking like “Thee Man.”

Arguments about the NBA’s greatest of all time have raged recently as James narrows the gap between himself and presumptive GOAT Michael Jordan. James is the league’s all-time leading scorer and just tallied more points in his 21st season than every other player combined at that stage of their career. At 39 years old, he averaged 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists, which should be good enough to warrant his 20th consecutive All-NBA team selection. 

But no one ever said James reminds them of Air Jordan. 

That’s not the case with Edwards. People can’t stop comparing him to MJ in terms of style, athleticism, trash talk and killer mentality. Playing in obscure Minnesota hasn’t helped Edwards’ case to this point, but legends are born in the postseason. When making a name for yourself, nothing beats sweeping two games on the defending champion’s home court.


“Obviously, they [Jordan and Edwards] have a lot of the same mannerisms,” Timberwolves guard Mike Conley told Fox Sports. “The moves, the fadeaways, the athleticism, the poster dunks, the blocks, the defensive stuff that he does. But really, just his drive is kinda the main thing. That same kind of work ethic, that same kind of ‘I don’t sleep at all at night because I’m ready to play, I’m ready to hoop.’” 

The Timberwolves are halfway to the Western Conference finals and headed home after obliterating the Denver Nuggets on Monday. Minnesota has yet to lose in these playoffs, which serve as Edwards’ coming out party. He averaged 31 points while brooming Kevin Durant and Phoenix in the first round, and then opened with a postseason career-high 43 points Saturday against the Nuggets. He netted 27 points in Monday’s Game 2 rout that put Denver’s title defense on life support.

Unlike the late great Kobe Bryant — who studied Jordan intensely and became the closest carbon copy to date — Edwards never intended to replicate His Airness. The similarities have come naturally, built on outrageous physical gifts and an insane work ethic, leading to unavoidable comparisons at the rim and on the wing.  

We’ve seen this story before. 

Fans and media began looking for the next Jordan before the original one retired (for the first time) in 1993. Busts like Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner and All-Stars like Grant Hill have fallen victim. Jerry Stackhouse and Vince Carter, among others who followed Jordan at North Carolina, were especially prone to be labeled. Bryant welcomed the characterization and wore it well.

Edwards prefers not to go there.

“I want it to stop,” Edwards said. “He’s the greatest of all time. I can’t be compared to him.”

He can and he will; his thoughts on the matter are irrelevant. Sports talk is fueled by “what have you done lately” and “what might you do next.” Stars rise and stars fade, and we’re addicted to sorting them through generational rankings, lists and tiers. We can’t help it.

Big men have their own category and San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama (7-foot-4) is a threat to topple all predecessors, even as Denver’s Nikola Jokić continues to climb the charts. But 7-footers aren’t as relatable as shooting guards who can grab a rebound and go coast-to-coast, or cross a defender to his knees.

Technically speaking, there’ll never be another Jordan or fill-in-the-blank all-time great. Players get on the court, do their thing and put up numbers in their own individual styles. And though no one thinks Robert Horry (seven rings) is better than Jordan (six rings), winning championships is a separator, too. 

Edwards is striving for his first NBA title with no assurance of ever winning one. History is full of amazing players who fell short, including Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley. There’s no shame in being on that list if such a fate awaits Edwards.

But he’s leading a bona fide contender in just his fourth season, in an eye-catching manner that suggests he’s only just begun and won’t stop any time soon. He’s in competition with Wemby, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luka Dončić to become the “Next Face of the League,” the only American of the four. However, no one else is closer to being the next MJ.

Like it or not, “Ant Man” is that dude. 

Settle in and enjoy.

Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at

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