On Tuesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks eliminated former Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns to deliver the Bucks' first title since 1971. The matchup was easily the best one that basketball fans have been able to witness since the 2015-16 series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, which went the full distance of 7 games.
Antetokounmpo entered the series with questions about his health, as he suffered a knee injury in the Bucks' Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, forcing him to miss two games in the series. Antetokounmpo decided to power through the injury, and was dominant from the opening tip, as he had 20 points and 17 rebounds in Game 1.
The Greek Freak had an even better performance in Game 2, as he had 42 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks, albeit in a losing effort, as the Bucks lost 118-108 in the contest. Antetokounmpo had 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists in Game 3, as he willed Milwaukee to their first victory of the series, in what was a 20-point blowout.
The Bucks would go on to win their next 3 games, with Antetokounmpo scoring 50 points, nabbing 14 rebounds, and recording 5 blocks in Game 6, which was a closeout game. After the Bucks had eliminated the Suns, Antetokounmpo was named the NBA Finals MVP, which was to be expected, considering the fact that he averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 5 assists per game and had at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in 3 of the 6 games.
NBA legend compares Giannis Antetokounmpo to Houston Rockets legend
During NBA TV's post-game coverage of the Bucks' close-out victory, NBA legend Isiah Thomas gave the 26-year-old forward high praise, and even compared him to Houston Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon.
"You know, when you look at Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan, they had those 8 years. Olajuwon won twice, Jordan won 6 times. Okay, now Giannis is up there.
Can he keep dominating like those two did? I believe he can."
Antetokounmpo, Olajuwon, and Jordan are the only 3 players in league history to have won an MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and NBA Finals MVP in their respective careers, which is elite company to be in for the Bucks forward. Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets won consecutive titles from 1993-1995, while also becoming the first sixth seed in NBA history to win a title.
Jordan's Bulls won two separate 3-Peats, securing titles between 1990-1993 and 1995-1998. But with Giannis in his prime, he could very well win more awards and/or titles, and especially considering the make-up of the Bucks' roster.
Regardless of whether he continues to add to his trophy case, he deserves praise for pushing through an early injury, putting his team on his back, and delivering an NBA title to the Deer District.