Less than a year ago, the Milwaukee Bucks exited the second round of the NBA Playoffs in disappointing fashion, losing to the Miami Heat in five games in the Bubble, and all of the talk about the Bucks for the next few months was about whether they would be able to hold on to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The two-time MVP chose to sign his supermax contract to stay in Milwaukee, promising to eventually bring a championship to the place that drafted him, and on Tuesday night he delivered on that with an all-time performance in a Game 6 win over the Suns, scoring 50 points to wow the NBA world and earn his first championship. Afterwards, many quickly pointed out that this was a win for small markets, as a star stayed at home rather than searching to team up with another star and was rewarded with a title.
This wasn’t lost on Giannis himself, and when asked about winning a championship in Milwaukee after re-signing and what that meant to him, he didn’t hold back in noting that he did it “the hard way.”
"It's easy to go somewhere and win a championship with somebody else … this is the hard way to do and we did it."
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) July 21, 2021
Now, there are never really “easy” championships, but stars can certainly stack the odds in their favor to win one. Giannis, for all the flack he’s received after the last two early exits for the Bucks, has earned the right to pound his chest a bit and talk his talk here, though, and you can see how much it means to him to prove those who thought he couldn’t get it done leading the way in Milwaukee wrong. The superteam discourse and “does this ring mean more than others” talk is, sadly, inevitable, but you can’t blame Giannis for pounding the table, literally, for himself in this moment.
The Finals MVP’s postgame was filled with some tremendous moments,from his excitement in talking about how he and Khris Middleton made this happen to his guttural scream when Malika Andrews noted all three Antetokounmbros are now NBA champions, as well as getting emotional talking about what he hopes this can mean to kids around the world.