Milwaukee – Half a century ago, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – a young Goliath then known as Lew Alcindor – Took the Milwaukee Bucks to their first championship. For decades, this was the only time the franchise had reached that height.
That is, till now.
On Tuesday night, the Bucks returned to their greatness. They are once again led by a behemoth with unparalleled skills, a 26-year-old from Greece nicknamed the Greek freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. On their home court, Milwaukee defeated the Phoenix Suns, 105–98, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win their second championship and complete a grueling NBA season. Injuries and coronavirus pandemic disruption.
“It should make every person around the world, every child, anyone believe in their dreams,” Antetokounmpo, an enthusiastic Nigerian-born, said after the game. He continued, “I hope to give people around the world, from Africa, from Europe, giving them hope that it can be done. Eight and a half years ago, before I got into the league, I didn’t know my next Where will the food come from. My mother was selling stuff in the street.”
Antetokounmpo turned in one of the greatest performances in NBA Finals history, including 50 points – a playoff career high – and 14 rebounds. As he has done for most of his career, Antetokounmpo used spin films and an array of brute force to make his way to the basket. Even from the free-throw line, where he has struggled, he was nearly perfect, scoring 17 for 19. He was also a force on the defensive end, blocking five shots. Until the final buzzer sounded, there was no doubt who would be named the Most Valuable Player of the series.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t be or what you can’t,” Antetokounmpo said. “People told me I couldn’t do free throws. I did my free throws tonight. And I’m a great champion.”
The Sons kept the deciding game competitive in the second half. Star point guard Chris Paul, 36, of Phoenix finished with 26 points. Scoring dynamo Devin Booker struggled for the Suns, scoring 19 points from 22 shots. For Paul, the defeat was particularly appalling, in his 16th season as a perennial All-Star still looking for his elusive championship.
“It’s tough,” said Paul. “Great group of people, hell of a season, but it’s going to hurt for a while.”
Bobby Portis, a reserve forward for Milwaukee and a fan favorite known for his demonstrative sermons, was 16 points off the bench. The crowd chanted his name every time.
The championship was the pinnacle of a remarkable growth for Antetokounmpo, two-time winner of the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. He entered the NBA as a rail-thin prospect, drafting outside the top 14 picks, a group known as the Lottery viewed as an indicator of impending stardom. He has since established himself as one of the best players in Bucks history.
Antetokounmpo won a championship in their eighth season, filling the last glaring hole on a resume that includes five All-Star selections and a Defensive Player of the Year award. Top stars are often judged by the number of championship rings they hold and the way they are won. Antetokounmpo won his title in the NBA era with the franchise that drafted him, when the best players often advance.
In the last two seasons, Antetokounmpo’s Bucks finished the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference and were eliminated in the playoffs before the final, raising questions about whether Antetokounmpo could really be the team elevates. . Opponents took advantage of his below average shooting ability.
Entering this season, there were murmurs that he might leave the Bucks in free agency. Instead, Antetokounmpo posted a December by . I bet on Milwaukee Signing a so-called Super Max extension Which is worth about a quarter of a billion dollars. He then delivered a major playoff run, allaying any doubts about his superstar status.
“This is my city. They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us,” Antetokounmpo said. He said, ‘Even when we lost the series, they were on our side. Obviously, I wanted to get the job done.”
Antetokounmpo talked about the “easy” decision by some NBA stars to leave free agency or ask for trades so they can team up with other stars.
“I can go to a superteam and just do my part and win the championship,” he said, “but it’s the hard way to do it.”
He patted the table for emphasis.
It helped that Milwaukee Gambled and traded for Jury Holiday, a renowned versatile player without a pedigree of perennial All-Star appearances. The Bucks sent New Orleans a package typically reserved for a true star, which included several veterans and several draft picks. The gamble paid off: Holiday provided strong assists to Antetokounmpo on both sides of the ball when the Bucks needed it most, especially with a 27-point, 13-assist performance in Game 5.
During the regular season, the Bucks finished third in the east, behind the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. Milwaukee was aided by the health of its key players, who largely avoided major injuries and coronavirus infections. In March, the Bucks traded Houston to acquire PJ Tucker, a veteran forward with a reputation as a tough defender and reliable shooter.
However, Milwaukee’s playoff run was on the verge of collapse on several occasions. Once again, coach Mike Budenholzer, in his 3rd season with the Bucks Weak came under scrutiny regarding his struggles to make adjustments against stronger defenses or to come up with more creative ways to use Antetokounmpo. And two-time All-Star Khris Middleton was once again faced with questions about whether he was deputy enough for Antetokounmpo because of his inconsistent shooting post season.
“It’s hard to find more words to describe what Giannis does,” said Budenholzer, who is off the charts.
In the semifinal round, the Bucks faced the Nets, led by the superstar trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Milwaukee lost the first two games of the series, including a 39-point blowout in Game 2. but the nets were troubled by injuries for Irving and Harden, and Antetokounmpo turned in his own star performance Extend the series to seven games. In the final game, a jump shot by Durant at the end of regulation came within a centimeter of the end of the buck season: his toe was on the 3-point line, making the shot only worth a game-tying 2 points, Not a game-winner 3. Instead, with 40 points and 13 rebounds from Antetokounmpo, Bucks take series-deciding game in overtime in Brooklyn.
In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the upstart Atlanta Hawks, with the series tied two games each, Antetokounmpo awkwardly landed and fell to the ground clutching his left knee, raising fears that he might be playing the NBA stars. will be the latest in a string. Loss of time due to serious injury. With the date of his return uncertain, Boxo Depends on Holiday and Middleton To win Games 5 and 6 and send Milwaukee to its first NBA Finals since 1974.
Antetokounmpo’s injury turned out to be only a hyperextension, which allowed him to return for the championship round. In the final, the Suns won the first two games at home, marking a third straight series in which the Bucks suffered losses. Antetokounmpo’s 41 points helped turn the tide during Game 3 in Milwaukee, as the Bucks won 120-100.
In Game 4, the Bucks came back from 9 points down in the fourth quarter and leveled the series behind Middleton’s 40 points. but that would be the game Most remembered for Antetokounmpo’s late-game block Deandre Ayton at the Sans Center is one of the most important defensive plays in NBA Finals history.
With momentum firmly on his back, the Bucks went back to Phoenix and put the Suns on the brink in Game 5, highlighted by an alley-oop from Holiday to Antetokounmpo at the end of the game. Entering Game 6, Antetokounmpo was average. 32.2 points, 13 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in the final.
After the buzzer on Tuesday, an emotional Antetokounmpo hugged former Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, who played in the NBA from 2009 to 2018 and was briefly Antetokounmpo’s teammate. It was Jennings who once famously predicted with enthusiasm that Milwaukee would defeat the more talented Miami Heat in six games in the 2013 playoff series. The wildly inaccurate prediction has become a rallying cry for Milwaukee’s fan base and made Jennings a cult hero of sorts.
Fans chanted “Bucks in six!” chanted. throughout the series. Those chants were going deaf after the game, as the audience rejoiced that Jennings’ prediction had somehow finally come true.