Giannis is already a legend: colossal game and historic ring for Milwaukee Bucks

Monstrous match of the Greek and title for his Bucks, the first in half a century. The Suns say goodbye without ideas and with four consecutive losses.


This is a ring for the damned, the outlaws, the outlaws. For the exiles. This is the ring of resilience and counterculture, the ring of those who cannot die because they have already died a million times. The Milwaukee Bucks ring in the year the champion was not, could not be, the Milwaukee Bucks. The one of the law of the sport: the best when it is necessary to be the best, the last one standing when all the others have fallen. Year II of the NBA pandemic, that of the emergency calendar after the Florida bubble, elevates a franchise that had not touched glory for 50 years. Who has traveled from Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. From, on the bench, Larry Costello to a Mike Budenholzer who has been proclaimed champion in the season in which his dismissal seemed a mere formality. Sign here and here, this copy is for you, collect your things and thank you very much for everything. This is the NBA. And that's life.

The Bucks lost when many believed they would win: 2019 and 2020, poor playoff starts after furious regular seasons. There, so soon, some stopped believing in an Antetokounmpo that is still, now, 26 years old. And more or less everyone was wondering which coach could take Budenholzer's place and rediscover the roof of a project in which, before this season, many more would have bet on Giannis's escape (ended renewing for five years) rather than for this title. How could they win, if they didn't before, in an East in which the Miami Heat had become a fad that was revealed to be fleeting, the Philadelphia 76ers was a more solid asset among the continuists and the Brooklyn Nets had embraced the atomic revolution with a big never seen three (Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving). How could the Bucks win if they hadn't won so far. The fallacy has been struck down by a team that can apply what at other times only a worn-out cliché: only they had faith. Only the Bucks believed in the Bucks.

The Bucks destroyed the Heat in the first round and needed a survival drill in extreme conditions and all the lucky breaks in the world to bring down the Nets: without fully recovering, James Harden injured Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant was millimeters away. not to step on the line and sentence the seventh game before extra time. But his shot was a two, not a triple, and the Wisconsin team escaped alive in overtime. There they had already begun to win the ring. Or they surely had, actually, when they were knocked out by the Raptors and Heat the previous two years, when they bet on burning or dying with the Jrue Holiday trade without knowing yet whether Giannis would follow. When they went after PJ Tucker during the season… the Bucks didn't make excuses or wait for the right moment: they made the right moment. After the epic against the Nets, they rallied the Hawks and closed the ticket to the Finals without Giannis Antetokounmpo, with a battered knee. And they rose again from a 2-0 against. First roll the Nets, then the Suns. The Bucks could lose before; they might not be here, they might not be the champion. But they have finally collected the award from whoever refuses to leave without a fight. More scars, no fear, more muscle and a hug from the dark side that has allowed them to play without filters, without memory, without fatigue. Play, play and play. Until Win.

The rise of an extraordinary leader

This is, above all, the ring of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sent the Suns to the grave (105-98) with a monstrous game, in which it was the obvious, at times unique, explanation of the victory of your team. It's that simple: 50 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 blocks, a 15/26 in shooting, a 1/3 in triples and an incredible 17/19 in free throws. The personnel line, where he has received so much ridicule and so much ironic countdown from rival fans, was the great ally of a player who has been a physical prodigy since he was a child but has also become a mental wall. Nothing affects him, nothing hurts him, nothing matters to him. He does not stop pushing, working all over the court, making the private quartermaster and the decisive plays of the megastar. Giannis is a one-man army, a player who has become colossal when he has learned not to force his actions away from the rim, to read defenses and move under the basket (30 points in this match in the paint, where in the Finals it has been around 80% in shots). When he has understood that he is not a Kobe Bryant but a Shaquille O'Neal.

His superhuman energy was undermining, it was perfectly visible, to some Suns who did not know what to do, who were charged with fouls in defense for trying to stop him and were scared near the rim in attack because they did not know where his endless arms were going to appear. Giannis, an exemplary guy who could now settle a lot of accounts (surely he won't, he's too happy for that), is the Finals MVP with averages of 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.8 blocks and 61.8% in shots. No one had signed 30 + 10 + 5 + 60% in the title fight. No one had ever won the regular-season MVP (he has two), Finals MVP (starting in 1983), Defender of the Year and Most Improved Player awards in his career. And only Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon had, so far, the top three. It is only the seventh, in 75 years of the NBA, that he reaches 50 points in a Finals game, something that since Michel Jordan in 1993 had only done LeBron James (2018). He is also the first to have a 50 + 10 5-block game anywhere in the playoffs since 1973 (when the blocks start to register) and the first over 40 + 10 + 5 since Shaquille O'Neal in 2001. And the first since Shaq (in 2000) with three games of 40 points and 10 rebounds in the same Final, one in which he has made two different quarters of at least 20 points. The last to do it, and only once, was Michael Jordan, in 1993 ... and also against the Phoenix Suns. Shall we continue? 444 444

Giannis, unanimous MVP, is already a player impossible to deny, an NBA legend. With all the glory and all the honors, the leader of an imperfect team that has turned out to be a perfect champion. A proud project, the power of the people, the fifth to come back from 2-0 in the Finals ... and the third to do so with four consecutive wins, from 2-0 to 2-4. The revolution, zas, in a seen and not seen. The Suns leave stunned, flabbergasted, timid, devoured by an inertia that began as clearly theirs. Unable to adapt to the jungle climate imposed by the Bucks, no responses in the area, no recourse but to strike in individual actions against the funnel built (wonderfully) by Mike Budenholzer: defenses win championships. On the final day it was especially evident that the supporting players (especially the youngsters, Mikal Bridges and DeAndre Ayton) were evaporating and that the Bucks were perfectly happy with a succession, including dangerously good streaks, of suspensions from Chris Paul and Devin Booker. . The point guard, who will surely never have his first ring so close, stopped controlling the Final as the games went by. Booker missed a lot and got entangled with his own despair (the referees, bad luck…) in a definitive duel that closed with 19 points on 22 shots (0/7 on 3-pointers). It's the curse of two: three Suns Finals in their history, three losses 4-2.

The Bucks survived, thanks to Giannis' blind faith, a moment of maximum danger. After a colossal first quarter (29-16), they fell dramatically in the second: 13-31 in partial (42-47) and 4/20 in shots for a flan that stacked 10 losses with fear in the body . Less Giannis: from 42-49 just leaving the locker room to 77-77 at the end of the third quarter with 20 points in those 12 minutes of the Greek and, before starting the decisive quarter, 37 for the 40 of his teammates. He still stacked 13 more between rebounds, poster blocks and smart passes. A perfect game that ended up adding the defense of PJ Tucker and Jrue Holiday (spectacular despite his mistakes in shooting), the vitalist lack of control of Bobby Portis (16 very important points) and the quality in the hot moment of a broken Khris Middleton (at the end, 17 points). Again, the Bucks dominated the rebound, passed better, had more energy and more patience, more faith in their plan. Around the middle of the last quarter (94-90) the Suns gasped in a trail of baskets with dispenser, suffered and fickle. But the feeling was already penetrating everyone, the one who was going to win irretrievably and the one who was drowning as the current carried him further and further away from the shore. The glory is for the Bucks, for an impossible, damned, deeply proud champion. And for Giannis Antetokounmpo, from today on a legend, a giant, a colossus. The new king of the NBA.

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