The Milwaukee Bucks are NBA champions, and the main reason is their star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time MVP had 50 points(17-19 FT), 14 rebounds, and five blocks shots as the Bucks defeated the Suns 105-98 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night.
After losing the first two games of this series, Milwaukee, who got their first NBA title since 1971, won four straight to win the series 4-2.
Antetokounmpo, named Finals MVP, scored 33 points in the second half of Game 6, which marked the second time he scored 30-plus points in the second half of a game in this series. According to Elias Sports, Antetokounmpo is the first player to record multiple 30-point halves in a single NBA Finals over the last 40 years. Additionally, he’s the seventh player in the history of the NBA to score 50 points in the Finals.
When Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee against the Hawks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, many thought he would not be able to get back on the court again this season, but he got back on the court and averaged 35.5 points on 62% shooting from the field, 13.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game in the Finals.
It’s been a long journey for the “Greek Freak” to an NBA title, and according to him, he was not sure it would happen.
“I started playing basketball just to help my family,” he said after the game. “Tried to get them out of the struggle, the challenges we were facing when we were kids. But I never thought I’m going to be 26 years old, with my team playing the NBA Finals. Just playing — like, I was just happy just being like not even winning, just being a part of this, of this journey. But I never thought I would be sitting here with this right here and this right here (the championship and MVP trophies.) We’ve come a long way.”
Antetokounmpo has had his struggles from the free-throw line throughout his career, but he quieted a lot of people by going 17-19 from the line on Tuesday night, which he discussed postgame.
“People told me I cannot make free throws,” he said. “I made my free throws tonight, and I’m a freaking champion. I made them when I’m supposed to make them. I’m joking — actually, I’m not (laughter).”
Before the start of the season, the five-time All-Star signed a five-year, $228 million extension, the largest contract in league history. After some playoffs failures, including losing to the Heat in the second round of the playoffs last season, some thought Antetokounmpo would go elsewhere, but he stayed in Milwaukee, and now he’s a champion.
“But coming back, I was like, this is my city,” he said. “They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us. Even when we lost, the city was still — went outside, and you know, 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 — I don’t put — 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, and this is the way to do it, and we did it. (Expletive) did it. We did it, man.”
Antetokounmpo was remarkable in this series, and with the help of Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and others, he’s finally a champion.