I will admit that I was wrong.
I was convinced that the NBA was going to step in and do something like it did in 1985 when it rigged the draft lottery to ensure that Patrick Ewing would be heading to the New York Knicks. Yes, it’s a conspiracy theory but I believe it.
And I was convinced that the NBA wouldn’t let this happen to Point God Chris Paul, whose brilliant career had everything but a championship ring. But I forgot about one thing that readers so kindly pointed out in the comments section: Giannis Antetokounmpo.
I can only say that Giannis Antetokounmpo is a goddamn grown-ass man. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a more dominant championship performance than what happened Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo, 26, was all over the place. His midrange was on fire. His drives to the basket (as they had been all series) were unstoppable. His free-throw shooting was Stephen Curry-esque. And in the end, Antetokounmpo beat the Phoenix Suns, 105-98, giving the Bucks their first NBA championship since 1971.
“He’s off the charts,” Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo shortly after the win.
“I love the players, I love the roster, I love the team. I’m incredibly fortunate to be where I am and be a small part [of the title],” Budenholzer said. “What Jon Horst has done to put together a team, he’s the greatest GM in the league.”
And they did it all without creating a superteam made up of friendships and plans of winning a championship by stacking the odds. In fact, the big acquisition in the off-season that proved to be the tipping point to winning a championship was giving up a king’s ransom to get lockdown defender Jrue Holiday, who proved himself to be worth “Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, two first-round draft picks and the rights to swap two additional first-rounders.”
And Antetokounmpo knows that he could have joined someone else’s team and become a Robin to their Batman but that wouldn’t have been the hard-working Milwaukee way.
And it couldn’t have happened to a more humble city with the most humble superstar.
From the Washington Post:
Antetokounmpo — spindly and raw when taken 15th in the 2013 draft — came to embody the antithesis of NBA fame while overpowering the league.
The playbook created by superstars who orchestrate their way into bigger and brighter markets, he shunned. And in December, Antetokounmpo’s commitment to the Bucks with a five-year, $228 million extension was such a low-key affair that he broke the news on social media.
“This is my home, this is my city,” Antetokounmpo wrote.
And on this night, embodying the spirits of the NBA greats before him, Antetokounmpo left it all on the floor, scoring 50 points and 14 rebounds and every one of those points were needed for the Bucks to become the NBA Champs in six games in front of their home crowd.
“I made my free throws tonight and I’m a freakin’ champion!” Antetokounmpo said.
After the Bucks won, Antetokounmpo, the Finals MVP, cried. In fact, he was choking back tears the entire night, almost as if he didn’t believe that he’d now joined Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the star Bucks players who won an NBA championship, in a city that took a chance on a 19-year-old kid whose family moved from Nigeria to Athens looking for a better life.
When asked to wax more about how he dominated the game to will his team to victory, in typical Antetokounmpo fashion, he had this to say:
“I hope this can give everybody around the world hope and believe in their dreams.”