Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star, gained his second straight Most Precious Participant Award, after one other stellar common season, the N.B.A. introduced Friday. He turned the primary repeat winner of the N.B.A.’s high particular person honor because the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry in 2015 and 2016. At 25 years previous, 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 Participant of The Yr Award.
Antetokounmpo’s coronation as essentially the most beneficial participant comes at an ungainly time: The Bucks misplaced their second-round sequence with the Miami Warmth 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 sport after sustaining an ankle damage in Sport 4. It’s paying homage to 2007, when Dirk Nowitzki gained the distinction 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 stated 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 stated. “I want to be a champion.”
Subsequent season, Antetokounmpo will try and turn into the primary N.B.A. participant to win three straight M.V.P.s since Larry Chicken from 1984 to 1986. In March, Antetokounmpo instructed 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 Instances doesn’t take part in awards voting.)
Antetokounmpo is affectionately generally known as the Greek Freak, a reference to his unusually lengthy wingspan and his dwelling nation of Greece, the place he grew up. The son of Nigerian immigrants, Antetokounmpo was drafted by Milwaukee with the fifteenth decide within the draft in 2013. He was solely 18. Antetokounmpo entered the league as a slender, uncooked expertise with plenty of potential, nevertheless it didn’t take lengthy earlier than he turned himself right into a pressure. His first All-Star sport got here in 2017, the identical 12 months he gained the Most Improved Participant Award. However his rise continued from there, culminating together 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, Chicken, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Invoice Russell because the gamers who’ve repeated in back-to-back years.
Now, after the Bucks’ loss to the Warmth, Antetokounmpo has an enormous resolution to make quickly: He’s eligible to turn into 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 stated Friday.