Bucks win NBA Championship behind historic game from Giannis Antetokounmpo


Photo courtesy of David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images

The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated their playoff run.

Christian Tate, Sports Reporter

The city of Milwaukee has gotten the greatest gift an NBA team can give to its city: The Larry O’Brien trophy.

The trophy comes back to Milwaukee after their win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals. This championship marks their first championship win since 1971, snapping a 50-year drought.

I think it’s fair to say —  no one saw this win coming at the beginning of the season. Many fans, sports critics and players favored the league’s newly-minted “Big 3,” the Brooklyn Nets, to win it all at the end of the season after they added former MVP guard James Harden to the roster. However, a series of unfortunate injuries befell the Nets and many other teams around the league, propelling the Bucks’ chances of winning it all into the stratosphere.

Let’s start the story of the Bucks improbable championship run at the very beginning of the playoffs. After trading for Jrue Holiday, one of the best guard defenders the league has to offer, the Bucks steamrolled through the Miami Heat in the first round — beating them in 4 straight games and sweeping the series.

Next up, the Bucks faced what some would call their toughest challenge in this year’s playoffs: matching up with the Brooklyn Nets in the second round, which came down to the wire.

Even though the Nets were missing two of their three star-caliber players, with Kyrie Irving and Harden being either hampered in or sitting out of the series entirely due to injury, the series still went to a Game 7.

After winning one of the closest series-closing games the league has seen in awhile, the Bucks moved on to face the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Final. The Hawks — another team who surprised everyone by going far and beyond their expectations — would fall to the Bucks in 5 games despite their best efforts and the Bucks’ MVP-caliber star player Giannis Antetokounmpo hyper-extending his knee.

The Bucks progressed to beat the Phoenix Suns in 6 games in the NBA Final, with Antetokounmpo receiving the Finals MVP award for his historic efforts. Antetokounmpo averaged 35 points, 13.2 rebounds and five assists per game on nearly 62 percent from the field — while playing all-NBA level defense with a hyperextended knee — en route to his first championship win.

In the 75-year long history of the NBA, Antetokounmpo is the first player to average those stats at such a high level of efficiency in a finals series. He’s been called the most physically dominant player in the league since the peak playing years of Shaquille O’Neal, and it’s hard to argue against that after seeing this playoff run.

In the final game of the Bucks’ series against the Suns, Antetokounmpo filled up the stat sheet with 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks while shooting 17 of 19 from the free throw line.

Ever since his dominant performance in Game 6, there’s been talk of Antetokounmpo as the best player currently playing in the NBA — even over other legendary names like LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. At this point, I’m inclined to agree.

Despite the adversity, the injuries and the ridicule that Antetokounmpo received for staying with the Bucks instead of choosing to play in a different jersey, the Milwaukee Bucks got it done on the biggest stage under the brightest lights the NBA has to offer.

One thing is for sure: if Antetokounmpo stays with this team for his whole career, this will not be the last time the Milwaukee Bucks see the summit of the NBA mountain. Not by a long shot.