Giannis Antetokounmpo is the third member of his household to pick up an NBA title after he put in an immense display to give the Milwaukee Bucks their all-important Game 6 triumph over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old Greek born talent missed out on the final two playoff encounters against the Atlanta Hawks and there was a great deal of speculation a hyperextended knee would affect his ability to perform in the NBA finals. This turned out to be something of a nothing burger.
Antetokounmpo put in a truly inspirational display, especially in Games 3 and 6, to give Milwaukee their first NBA title since 1971. Most sportsbooks don’t feel this is a one-off either, as the NBA points spread today point to further success for the Bucks and you can pick up around (+900) on a repeat success in 2022. That puts Mike Budenholzer’s side at third favorites behind the Nets and the Lakers.
The season has proven to be something of a procession when it comes to records smashed by Antetokounmpo. Having picked up back to back 40+ points in playoff games, being the first player to do so since the great Shaq in 2000, Giannis then finished off the series with an amazing 50-point haul to clinch the title.
Giannis tasted title triumph with older brother Thanasis and followed younger brother Kostas, who won the title with the L.A Lakers last time around.
An emotional Antetokounmpo was in beligent form in the post-game press conference, especially when discussing his possibly exit from the Bucks prior to the current campaign;
“I just couldn’t leave. There was a job that had to be finished.
“Coming back, I was like, ‘This is my city. They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us.’ … Obviously I wanted to get the job done. But that’s my stubborn side. It’s easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else. It’s easy. … I could go to a super team and just do my part and win a championship.
“But this is the hard way to do it,” he continued, pounding the dais for emphasis, “and this is the way to do it, and we did it. We f—ing did it.”
Antetokounmpo went on to discuss his somewhat circuitous route to the NBA;
“I’ve done it all, man. I did anything that I could just to be on the court, just to be in this position. I’ve not played. I’ve come off the bench. When I was 18, I started on the team. I went to the front office and told them to send me to the G League. I’ve played point guard. I’ve only defended. Slashed from the corners and everything. In my fourth year, I was able to lead as a ball handler.
“I’ve done it all. Tonight, that’s what I had to do. I had to do a little bit of everything. I had to defend, I had to rebound, I had to block. Did a little bit of everything.”
Unsurprisingly, Giannis picked up the NBA Finals MVP award as well, to go with the back-to-back NBA MVP awards from 2019 and 2020 and there’s a very real sense that the Athens born forward is only just getting started.