Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points as the Milwaukee Bucks secured their first NBA title since 1971 with a 105-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the Finals.
Their 4-2 series win was completed in front of a 17,000 crowd and a further 65,000 outside the Fiserv Forum. The Bucks became only the fifth team to win the best-of-seven series after losing their first two matches.
Three weeks ago, Antetokounmpo suffered a knee injury that cast a shadow over his role in the Finals. He had to deal with a hyperextended knee that prevented him from playing in the last two games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks. The All-Star initially feared the injury would keep him side-lined for around a year but he was miraculously back on the court a week later for the start of the series against the Suns.
The Greek forward was delighted with his accomplishment, saying, “I’m happy I was able to do it with this team for Milwaukee.”
The ‘Greek Freak’ delivered an outstanding performance, arguably the best of his career, clinching the NBA Finals MVP award, which he can add to his two regular season MVP trophies.
It was an easy choice to name Antetokounmpo as the recipient of the award, as he collected 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. He had a minimum of 40 points and 10 rebounds in three of the six games in this series. Just like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 50 years ago, the 6ft 11in Greek made sure a giant inspired the Bucks to their next title.
The 26-year-old matches the feat of Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon by collecting a regular season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and NBA defensive Player of the Year awards.
Antetokounmpo added, “I want to thank Milwaukee for believing in me. I want to thank my teammates for playing hard with me.”
The Bucks’ title-winning coach Mike Budenholzer expressed his fondness for the Greek forward by describing him as “a special human being.”
"I’ve learned so much from him. He’s a special leader,” said the 51-year-old
“These players are champions every day. They’ve embraced getting better every day.”
When the Bucks last won the NBA title in 1971, Budenholzer was just four years old.
After the Buck’s victory initiated a huge party inside the Fiserv Forum and across the streets of Milwaukee, you can guarantee there’ll be a few sore heads walking up across Wisconsin on Wednesday.