Giannis gets his first: Bucks win first NBA title since 1971
SportsPulse: In capturing the franchise’s first NBA championship in 50 years, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks showed the rest of the league how a small market team can win with homegrown talent.
SportsPulse, USA TODAY
Giannis Antetokounmpo completed the career most valuable player trifecta by being named the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP on Tuesday night after the Milwaukee Bucks’ 105-98 championship-clinching victory over the Phoenix Suns at Fiserv Forum.
Antetokounmpo becomes just the 11th player in league history to have won the regular-season MVP (2018, 2019), a Finals MVP (2021) and an All-Star Game MVP (2021). He and Michael Jordan are the only players to claim those honors and also a Defensive Player of the Year award.
He also joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only Bucks players to have won regular-season and Finals MVPs. They are two of just 17 players to earn that distinction in league history.
Antetokounmpo is also the fifth international player to win the award (Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki).
It seems improbable to believe that even playing in the Finals was a real question for Antetokounmpo. He suffered a hyperextended left knee in the Eastern Conference finals June 29 and somehow found a way to play in Game 1 on July 6. He played 35 minutes in his Finals debut, scoring 20 points on 54.5% shooting, pulling down 17 rebounds and handing out four assists.
He followed it up by making history in every game afterward:
42 points (68.2% shooting), 12 rebounds, 4 assists
- It was his 10th game of the playoffs with at least 30 and 12, joining Shaquille O’Neal, Olajuwon, Elgin Baylor and Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to have that many in one postseason.
- His 20 fourth-quarter points were the most points scored in a Finals season since Michael Jordan had 22 in 1993 vs. the Suns.
- He joined O’Neal as the only players to have at least 40 and 10 in consecutive Finals games.
41 points (60.9% shooting), 13 rebounds, six assists
- Joined Bob Pettit (1957) as the only players to average at least 30 and 14 through the first three games of his first three Finals games.
- Became one of seven players to score 40 points with just one turnover in a game.
- Had the fourth most points scored in his first three Finals game with 103.
26 points (57.9% shooting) and pulled in 14 rebounds and handed out eight assists – and he came up with the signature defensive play of his career and one of the best in Finals history with a fourth-quarter block of Suns center Deandre Ayton.
- It was the first block of a dunk attempt in clutch time of Finals over the last 25 seasons, per ESPN Stats & Info.
- He joined O’Neal as the only players to average 30 points per game on 60% shooting through his first four games since 1955.
32 points (60.9% shooting) with nine rebounds and six assists. He also called for the ball on a soaring alley-oop dunk over Chris Paul at the end of the game.
- Joined Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Kevin Durant and LeBron James as the only players to score 30 and have at least five rebounds and assists and not turn the ball over since 1978.
- He is the first player in Finals history to average 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists on 60% shooting.
Saving his best for last, Antetokounmpo turned in a virtuoso performance. He emptied the whole bag, using a pump-fake on a three-pointer to blow by Ayton and finish with a spin move. He knocked down a three. He made 17 of his 19 free throws. He hit jumpers, layups and finished at the rim to clinch the series with 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.
- It was his 12th game of this postseason with 30 points and 10 rebounds, tying Elgin Baylor for second-most in a single playoff of NBA History.
- He joined O’Neal (2000) as the only players with three or more 40 and 10 games in a single NBA Finals.
- He became the first player with 40 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in any playoff game since O’Neal (2001).
- He became the first player to record multiple 30-point halves in a single NBA Finals over the last 40 years.
- With 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 blocks, he became the first player in NBA history to average 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and one block on 50% shooting in a single playoff run.