Last night we got a new NBA champion, as the Milwaukee Bucks managed to come back from being down to 2-0 by beating the Phoenix Suns in an epic Game 6 in front of their ecstatic crowd, claiming their first franchise title since 1971. It proved to be a huge night and celebration in Milwaukee, as the Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo capped off the season with a fantastic 50-point game.
After getting heavily scrutinized and picked on throughout the Playoffs for his weaknesses, Giannis has shown incredible ability to block out the outside noise and focus on his game, persevering and eventually becoming an NBA champion. At only 26 years old, Giannis has added to an already impressive track record of being a multiple All-Star, DPOY, and 2x MVP, with a ring and Finals MVP trophy.
Not many people saw this coming when he got drafted 15th overall in the 2013 Draft, without any previous professional experience. The tall and lanky kid would have one of the most unique and unbelievable rises in the NBA world, developing into a superstar in every aspect. But back in 2017, before Giannis became one of the top dogs in the game, Kobe Bryant presented him with the challenge of winning the MVP award.
Giannis would deliver, winning two MVP awards and forcing Kobe to set the bar even higher.
The second mission would be a lot harder, as Giannis had some disappointing playoff exits for consecutive years. But after all the scrutiny Giannis embraced, he would show character and keep it going, finally leading his Bucks to the promised land in this crazy season. Even though it was speculated that he wouldn't be able to play after the freakish injury versus the Hawks, Giannis played and showed no signs of slowing down, as he dominated the Finals averaging 35.2 ppg, 13.2 rpg, and 5.0 apg, on 61.8% shooting from the floor.
After the game, Giannis remembered Kobe's challenge and showed his appreciation for the legend and the confidence he installed in him.
"It means a lot. This started almost as a joke at first. He was in a Nike ad, and I think he was sending challenges to players…I was like 'Let me just shoot my shot.' - "What's my challenge?". And he was like "MVP." At first, I was like joking, I didn't think he was going to respond to me. When he did, he made me believe. I was like 'Kobe Bryant thinks I can do this. I can play at the highest level and lead my team and win an MVP?' I had to do it. I had to work hard. Not necessarily to not let him down, I had to work hard because people believed I could do it."
Giannis Antetokounmpo, post-game press conference
This just capped off Giannis' remarkable life story. A kid who came out of poverty to the biggest stage, only to become one of the best players in the game and an NBA champion. The fact Kobe made such an impact in his career, just like with numerous other young players, speaks volumes about the impact "The Mamba" had on this generation. This way, Kobe's legacy is continuing to live forever.
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