Giannis Antetokounmpo has led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title since 1971 and was named was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. on Tuesday. Powered by a masterpiece from the Greek Freak The Bucks won 105-98 over the visiting Phoenix Suns.
With the victory, the Bucks clinched the NBA Finals 4-2 and became only the fifth team to win the best-of-seven championship series after losing the first two games.
26-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo was named most valuable player of the series after scoring a playoff career-high 50 points in the clinching game that will surely soothe the Bucks’ recent history of postseason failure.
“I didn’t do this by myself. Like, every friggin day somebody helped me” Giannis said.
“I’m so blessed to work with Giannis every day,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said during an on-court interview. “He’s a special human being, he’s an even more amazing human being than he is a player. I’ve learned so much from him and his leadership.”
Antetokounmpo, who was born and raised in Athens to Nigerian parents, joins Dirk Nowitzki (2011), Tony Parker (2007), Tim Duncan (2005 and 2003) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994 and 1995) as the only international players to be named NBA Finals MVP.
It was a remarkable NBA Finals debut for the 26-year-old Antetokounmpo, especially considering he missed the final two games of the previous series after suffering a gruesome-looking hyperextension of his left knee.
But Antetokounmpo managed to play in each game of the NBA Finals during which he averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5 assists over six games.
Antetokounmpo saved his best for last as he recorded a playoff career-high 50 points in the championship-clinching game at home to go along with 14 rebounds and five blocks.
The Bucks’ win kicked off a wild party for both a capacity crowd of 17,000 inside and the 65,000 supporters who attended a watch party outside the arena.
Greeks, among them also the Prime Minister cheered the victory as well and hailed Giannis on social media.
Leader of SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras posted, among others, recalling that Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo started as migrants’ kids that experienced injustice and racism “it is an honor that you re Greeks.”
In a cafeteria in Sepolia, western Athens, where the Antetokounmpo kids were raised, some twenty friends and supporters reportedly gathered at 4 o’ clock in the morning due to the time difference to watch the historic game.
They opened champagne and recalled how the children of the Antetokounmpo family would get a snack there when they were young.
Giannis has still links to the cafe as he often visits Sepolia and distributes aid to the needy.