Giannis Antetokounmpo earned his first championship after guiding the Milwaukee Bucks past the Phoenix Suns. Antetokounmpo anchored the Bucks’ championship push behind his stellar performance. After earning his first NBA title, the star forward decided to blast the concept of NBA super teams.
Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the Bucks to an NBA title
In his eighth season, Antetokounmpo finally reached the mountaintop by securing his first NBA title.
The 26-year-old led the Bucks through an arduous playoff journey that involved several challenging moments. Milwaukee fell into a 2-0 series deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets but moved to the next round after seven games.
The Bucks overcame losing Antetokounmpo for Game 5 and Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a hyperextended left knee. The hurdles didn’t stop there as Milwaukee fell to another 2-0 series deficit in the NBA Finals to the Suns. However, Antetokounmpo’s performance anchored four straight wins to earn the team’s first championship in five decades.
The two-time league MVP dominated the series averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per contest. He joined Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan by winning multiple MVPs and a Finals MVP by age 26 or younger. He capped it off with 50 points in the close-out Game 6 win to secure another legacy-defining moment.
After earning his first championship, Antetokounmpo chose to take a verbal shot at super teams.
Giannis Antetokounmpo blasts NBA super teams: ‘It’s easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else’
Before Antetokounmpo helped guide the Bucks to the 2021 NBA title, many questioned his decision to remain with the franchise.
The star forward bypassed the opportunity to play elsewhere in free agency after inking a five-year, $228.2 million extension before the 2020-21 season. His hard work and dedication finally paid off with an impressive run to earn his first NBA title.
During the postgame press conference, Antetokounmpo voiced it would have been easy to join a super team but instead chose to take the “hard way.”
“Obviously I want to get the job, but that’s my stubborn side,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else. It’s easy. I could go — don’t want to put anybody on the spot — but I could go to a super team and just do my part and win a championship. But this is the hard way to do it, and this is the way to do it and we did it.”
Antetokounmpo relishes the satisfaction of taking the more challenging path to earn a championship. He could have had several scenarios to play alongside a few other superstars. He may have had the opportunity to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Los Angeles Lakers or Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson with the Golden State Warriors.
Instead, he chose to remain with the Bucks, anchoring the roster alongside Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Milwaukee doesn’t possess a superstar cast of talent around him, but it’s elevated his game to the next level.
Antetokounmpo dictates his NBA future, where he wants to spend many years ahead leading Milwaukee several more championship runs.
Milwaukee holds bright future ahead
With the Bucks finally winning an NBA title, It places a brighter future ahead.
Antetokounmpo is in the prime of his career while being under contract through the 2025-26 season. Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s core group is under long-term deals that effectively extend the championship window.
Jrue Holiday inked a four-year, $134.9 million extension that runs through the 2024-25 campaign, while Khris Middleton’s five-year, $177.5 million deal moves through the 2023-24 season. Big man Brook Lopez is also under contract through the 2022-23 campaign.
The pieces are in place for Milwaukee to continue to contend for more NBA titles behind their star forward.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.