Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star, gained his second straight Most Valuable Player Award, after one other stellar common season, the N.B.A. introduced Friday. He grew to become the primary repeat winner of the N.B.A.’s prime particular person honor for the reason that Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry in 2015 and 2016. At 25 years outdated, Antetokounmpo is the primary back-to-back winner at that age since LeBron James in 2009 and 2010.
Antetokounmpo bested his numbers from final 12 months, averaging profession highs in factors (29.5) and rebounds (13.6) in fewer minutes, whereas main the Bucks to the league’s finest regular-season file. He additionally gained the N.B.A.’s Defensive Player of The Year Award.
Antetokounmpo’s coronation as probably the most precious participant comes at an ungainly time: The Bucks misplaced their second-round collection with the Miami Heat in 5 video games after being favored to go to the finals. They as a substitute fell wanting final 12 months’s convention finals look, with Antetokounmpo relegated to the bench within the last recreation after sustaining an ankle harm in Game 4. It is paying homage to 2007, when Dirk Nowitzki gained the dignity weeks after the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks have been knocked out of the playoffs by the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors.
“Obviously, I would love to be still in the bubble, keep playing games, be in the Eastern Conference finals, you know, fighting to get an opportunity to play in the finals,” Antetokounmpo mentioned in an interview on NBA TV from Athens, including that he was “grateful” for the award.
“But I’ve got to keep getting better,” he mentioned. “I want to be a champion.”
Next season, Antetokounmpo will try and turn out to be the primary N.B.A. participant to win three straight M.V.P.s since Larry Bird from 1984 to 1986. In March, Antetokounmpo advised reporters that successful the award once more is “not important at all” to him.
Antetokounmpo acquired 85 of 101 first-place votes, whereas LeBron James, going for his fifth M.V.P. award, got here second with 16 first-place votes. (The New York Times doesn’t take part in awards voting.)
Antetokounmpo is affectionately often called the Greek Freak, a reference to his unusually lengthy wingspan and his house nation of Greece, the place he grew up. The son of Nigerian immigrants, Antetokounmpo was drafted by Milwaukee with the 15th choose within the draft in 2013. He was solely 18. Antetokounmpo entered the league as a slender, uncooked expertise with plenty of potential, but it surely didn’t take lengthy earlier than he turned himself right into a drive. His first All-Star recreation got here in 2017, the identical 12 months he gained the Most Improved Player Award. But his rise continued from there, culminating along with his first M.V.P. award final season.
With the second award, Antetokounmpo joins Curry, James, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell because the gamers who’ve repeated in back-to-back years.
Now, after the Bucks’ loss to the Heat, Antetokounmpo has a giant choice to make quickly: He is eligible to turn out to be a free agent after subsequent season.
“As long as everybody’s on the same page and as long as everybody’s fighting for the same thing, fighting for the same thing every single day, which is to be a champion, I don’t see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years,” Antetokounmpo mentioned Friday.