After a 50-year drought, the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy has returned to Milwaukee — thanks in large part to the efforts of one Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time NBA MVP led his Bucks to an improbable run to emerge out of the East and ultimately oust the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Antetokounmpo quickly put to rest concerns of a hyperextended left knee by putting together an all-time individual Finals performance. The 26-year-old recorded at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in three of the six games in the series, emerging as the clear-cut choice for Finals MVP honors. Antetokounmpo saved his best for last, dropping 50 points and adding 14 rebounds and five blocks in a series-clinching 105-98 victory.
The Greek Freak joined Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players in league history to win a regular-season MVP award, a defensive Player of the Year Award and a Finals MVP Award, via NBA History.
Rightfully so, Antetokoumpo was showered with praise, both in person and over social media for his brilliant feat. That includes the man who the Finals MVP award is named after, Bill Russell. While the 87-year-old Boston Celtics legend wasn’t able to attend the game, he made sure to take to Twitter to share a congratulatory video message for the phenom.
“Congratulations Giannis,” Russell said. “I can’t say your last name, but congratulations on winning the Bill Russell award.”
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Celtics Players React to Giannis Winning Title
Plenty of current NBA players were quick to give Giannis and the Bucks their roses, from LeBron James to Kevin Durant and so on. Celtics players Jaylen Brown and Al Horford were also among those to shout out the NBA’s new champs.
While this season’s NBA Finals may not have consisted of your typical storied franchises oozing with superstar talent that we’ve become accustomed to on the big stage, the Bucks and Suns still put on quite the show. By the sound of it, Antetokounmpo wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“I could go to a super team and do my part and win a championship,” he said during the postgame ceremony, via NBA.com. “But this is the hard way to do it and we did it.”
“I want to thank Milwaukee for believing in me,” Antetokounmpo added. “I want to thank my teammates, man. They played hard every fricking game. I trusted this team. I wanted to do it here in this city. I wanted to do it with these guys. I’m happy. I’m happy we were able to get it done.”
Jeff Teague Gets a Championship
While Antetokoumpo is undoubtedly the star of the show, we’d be remiss not to mention “Celtics legend” Jeff Teague. After a highly underwhelming 34 games in Beantown this season, the Celtics dealt the 12-year veteran to the Orlando Magic as part of the Evan Fournier trade. However, Teague’s services were not welcomed in Central Florida. The point guard was quickly cut by the Magic, ultimately finding a home in Milwaukee.
The rest… well, the rest is history.
Former teammate Jayson Tatum took time out of his Olympic quest for gold to celebrate Teague’s accomplishment, as captured by Chris Grenham of Forbes Sports.
- Insider Pitches Nuggets Stretch Big as Future Celtics Starter
- Celtics Advised to Avoid Trading for ‘Broken’ All-Star
- Recent Celtics Draft Pick Wants Out of Boston: Report
- Celtics Could Take ‘Low-Cost Flyer’ on Former Top-5 Pick, per Insider