Giannis Antetokounmpo finally reached the ultimate goal of winning an NBA title. However, the Milwaukee Bucks star received significant criticism due to his playoff shortcomings and playing style over the years. All that has led to Hall of Famer Charles Barkley to blast Antetokounmpo‘s haters.
Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks to an NBA title
Antetokounmpo finally reached the mountaintop in his eighth NBA season, leading the Bucks to its first championship in five decades.
After avenging last year’s playoff exit against the Miami Heat, Milwaukee quickly fell into a 2-0 deficit against the Brooklyn Nets. The Bucks managed to squeeze by in seven games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The team followed it by edging past the Atlanta Hawks in six games to reach the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee then experienced a rough start against the Phoenix Suns after falling into another 2-0 series deficit. However, the Bucks responded by winning four straight games to capture the 2021 NBA title. The Suns had no answer defensively for Antetokounmpo, averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per contest.
He capped off his stellar showing in the NBA Finals with 50 points in the close-out Game 6 win. The two-time league MVP joined Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan by winning multiple MVPs and a Finals MVP by age 26 or younger.
Leading up to the legacy-defining moment, Antetokounmpo has dealt with constant criticism. It’s resulted in an NBA Hall of Famer finally firing back at the noise.
Charles Barkley fires back at Giannis Antetokounmpo haters: ‘He represents everything that is great about basketball’
Since Antetokounmpo‘s meteoric rise to stardom, he’s received plenty of criticism directed toward his playing style.
Much of which targeted his struggles regarding his outside shooting touch and free throw shortcomings. However, the 26-year-old blocked out all the noise, performing his best when it mattered most in the NBA Finals.
During a recent interview with USA TODAY Sports, Hall of Famer Charles Barkley finally had enough of the chatter by deciding to verbally blast the haters.
“It was amazing. I was really happy for Chris Paul and happy for my city,” Barkley said. “Living in Arizona, those people were awesome. But Milwaukee was the better team. When I picked Milwaukee to win the series, it was painful for me. I wanted to pick the Suns. But I just didn’t see how the Suns can beat those guys. If you’re not happy for Giannis Antetokounmpo, there’s something wrong with you. He represents everything that is great about basketball.”
Beyond being a phenomenal talent on the court, Antetokoumpo is the essence of what a true superstar should be. He continues to demonstrate class, humbleness, and tremendous respect for the game, his peers, and the media. In other words, he holds a clear understanding and appreciation for what he has.
It’s a significant reason why many are thrilled for him winning an NBA title. He’s the definition of a franchise talent and greater human being off the court. With a championship under his belt, all the noise can cease to exist.
Bucks hold a bright future ahead
The outside noise aside, Antetokounmpo fuels a promising future ahead of Milwaukee.
He’s the franchise centerpiece that can continue to compete for more NBA titles alongside the Bucks’ strong foundation. Antetokounmpo is entering the first year of his five-year, $228.2 extension he inked last December. Meanwhile. Khris Middleton’s remaining contract runs through the 2023-24 season.
Jrue Holiday inked a four-year, $134.9 million extension that runs through the 2024-25 campaign, and Brook Lopez is also under contract through the 2022-23 campaign. All that puts the pieces are in place for the Bucks to add more NBA titles over the foreseeable future.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.