Giannis Antetokounmpo is an NBA champion and a Finals MVP. He’s talked about being humble and being present in the moment. He worries about ego and pride. He’s also a potty mouth.
He was picked 15th by Milwaukee in the 2013 draft. He never left. He tasted his first-ever smoothie when he was 19. He got challenged by Kobe Bryant and was a two-time MVP before 26.
He got injured in the Eastern Conference finals and that could’ve been it. He came back and dropped 20 points and 17 rebounds in Game 1 like he never left. He then scored back-to-back 40-point games.
He throws precise, point god-level passes to Bobby Portis for the corner 3. He finds Khris Middleton for the big shots.
He chases down Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton for superhuman blocks. He catches lobs and throws them down as if it’s his only purpose. He can’t hit open 3s to save his life.
He shot about 56 percent from the free throw line in the playoffs coming into Game 6. He hit 17-of-19 free throws in Game 6. He scored 50 points in a finals closeout game.
Giannis is all these things and so much more. There’s a multiverse running down his veins, so many stories that have brought him to that moment of pure joy: sitting alone as an NBA champion with an NBA champion hat, tears pouring, just being present in the moment.
It was a weird moment, a rare glimpse of Giannis not doing anything...just feeling. Throughout these wild playoffs, he was always doing something, anything, everything to help his team win.
He would dominate and dunk everything. He would swat everything. He would stand back and give Khris his moment. He would scream at his teammates. He would hit a chair.
Giannis did all these things and so much more. We would need days, maybe weeks, to sum up what Giannis has accomplished because what he did is layers upon layers upon layers of greatness.
It started from hustling in the streets of Athens all the way to the 11:17 mark of the first quarter of Game 6 in Milwaukee. With Bridges about to score the game’s first basket, Giannis raced to the rim to meet him there and deny him that chance. Then Giannis raced to the other end of the floor, never stopping or slowing down, and getting the first points of Game 6. He would score 48 more. Some from pure hustle, all from hard work.
“Eight years ago, when I came to the league, I didn't know where my next meal will come from. My mom was selling stuff in the street. Now I'm here sitting at the top of the top. I'm extremely blessed,” Giannis said postgame after the Milwaukee Bucks became champions for the first time in 50 years.
Giannis is an NBA champion and a Finals MVP at 26 years old, but his journey has been long. He’s an old 26. He could be in his last few playing years. He could be just starting a Bucks dynasty. We don’t know. Eight years ago we couldn’t have predicted that an 18-year-old kid from Greece would later score 50 in Game 6 of the finals.
Eight years into the future (Giannis will only be 34), we don’t know what he’ll be capable of doing.
“I want to develop a time machine that I can go back in time in my rookie year to win the Rookie of the Year. And if I win the Rookie of the Year, I've won it all,” said Giannis. “And then late in my career, I'm going to win Sixth Man of the Year, too. I'm going to come off the bench.”
Accomplishing everything is the best bet.
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