Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in an astounding all-around performance and the Milwaukee Bucks captured their first NBA title since 1971 by defeating the Phoenix Suns 105-98 on Tuesday.
The Bucks won the best-of-seven NBA Finals by four games to two, becoming only the fifth team to claim the crown after dropping the first two contests.
Antetokounmpo, only the seventh player in finals history with a 50-point game, added 14 rebounds and five blocked shots as the Bucks went a NBA-best 10-1 at home in the playoffs to end their 50-year title drought.
“I want to thank Milwaukee for believing in me. I want to thank my teammates for playing hard with me,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m thankful I was able to get it done.”
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo had been questionable for the opener with a hyperextended knee.
But the 26-year-old Greek forward matched Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to take NBA Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.
“He’s a special human being. I’ve learned so much from him. He’s a special leader,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “These players are champions every day. They’ve embraced getting better every day.”
An expanded “Deer District” party zone outside the sold-out 20,000-seat arena welcomed 65,000 people watching on videoscreens and they had the celebration they had hoped to enjoy.
“I’m happy I was able to do it with this team for Milwaukee,” said Antetokounmpo. “And Coach Bud says we have to do it again.”
The Suns were foiled in their bid for the first crown in their 53-year history. Phoenix guard Chris Paul, playing in the first NBA Finals of his 16-year at age 36, led the Suns with 26 points.