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Giannis Antetokounmpo holding NBA Championship and MVP trophies while letting out a yell

The Greek Champion

Last Tuesday night the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns by the score of 105-98 to lock up their first title since 1971. Giannis Antetokounmpo with one of the all time great playoff performances was named finals MVP. Giannis had 50 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks becoming the first player ever to achieve those stats in a finals game. Winning his first title so young (he’s 26) has given him one of the best resumes in NBA history at this age.

The 26 year old absolutely took over these NBA finals with several spectacular performances. Games 2 and 3 saw him score 40+ points and 10+ rebounds in back to back games. Game 4 he had that ridiculous block that maybe 1 or 2 players in NBA history could’ve pulled off. Game 5 saw the dagger alley-oop dunk over CP3 which all but clinched that game on the road. Then game 6 happened which will be the one most remembered. With his team playing sloppy, perhaps due to the moment getting to them, Giannis carried his team for long stretches. 20 points in the third quarter kept the game close when Phoenix threatened to pull away. Despite being a notoriously bad free throw shooter he stepped up and knocked down 17 of 19 attempts.

These NBA Finals took Giannis’s game to another level and if he can consistently hit his free throws, the rest of the league better watch out. At age 26 he’s only beginning to enter his prime years and will only get better by gaining more experience. More than anything this championship run will have taught him what it takes to win a title. Having that experience goes a long way in future close playoff games. Where in the past he might falter at the crucial moments now he has that confidence to pull through. It’s a dangerous thing to hear for the rest of the league.

As of right now Giannis is a two time league MVP, he’s won the defensive player of year twice and now can add a finals MVP to his resume. The only other player in NBA history that can say the same thing is MJ himself. Hakeem the Dream comes close, but he only had one league MVP. Anytime you find yourself accomplishing something only MJ has managed to do, you know you’ve done something special. To accomplish all of this at age 26 is nothing short of remarkable. So what does that mean for his legacy? Well for one this championship instantly shoots him above the no rings category. He no longer has that distinct problem hanging over his head anymore.

Best thing about this championship is that he did it the hard way. Like he said in his post game interview, this is the way he wanted it. He didn’t want to join a super team to win a title, a subtle shot at Lebron, Durant and Harden, but rather win it with the franchise that drafted him. It’s a refreshing outcome in an age where everyone has been teaming up to form their own super teams. Giannis pulled through against all the odds and won with a team many believe would never make it this far. More than anything this makes that championship all the more sweeter.

Justin Walker

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