As recently as last fall, there was major uncertainty about whether Giannis Antetokounmpo would remain with the Bucks for the long term, as his second contract with the team was nearing an end and he was weighing whether or not to sign a super-max extension.
Antetokounmpo, of course, eventually accepted that super-max offer last December, a decision that paid off in a major way on Tuesday, when the Bucks secured their first championship in 50 years. After the Game 6 victory, Giannis expressed satisfaction that he opted to stick with Milwaukee rather than joining forces with other stars elsewhere.
“I could go to a super-team and just do my part and win a championship,” he said on Tuesday, according to Steve Megargee of The Associated Press. “But this is the hard way to do it and this is the way to do it. And we did it.”
As Megargee writes, Antetokounmpo spent much of his post-game press conference thanking the people who helped him get to this point, including the current and former Bucks officials who had a hand in his development. He also reiterated his love for the city of Milwaukee.
“This is my city,” Giannis said. “They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us.”
Here’s more on the new NBA champions:
- Kevin Durant, whose Nets nearly got by the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals said after Team USA practice in Tokyo on Wednesday that he wasn’t dwelling on “what-ifs,” per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Durant also referred to the Bucks as “somewhat of a dynasty,” as Joe Vardon of The Athletic relays. “I know it’s the first chip and a lot of people call you a dynasty after a few,” Durant said. “But the continuity of that team is something that’s impressive and how they continue to build and add and now they’re champions, and you can appreciate that.” Durant will be seeking a gold medal alongside Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton at the Olympics.
- Sam Amick and Eric Nehm of The Athletic take a deep dive into the road the Bucks took to the 2021 championship. The in-depth report includes several interesting tidbits, including that Antetokounmpo required fluid IV treatment after Game 5 due to dehydration and that Holiday was “ecstatic” last offseason to be traded to the Bucks, who were on his list of preferred destinations.
- ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) examines what’s on tap for the Bucks this summer and how they can keep their championship roster intact. The first step the team takes this offseason may be to reward head coach Mike Budenholzer – who is entering a contract year – with an extension, Marks notes.
- In case you missed it, Holiday earned a $1MM bonus as a result of the Bucks’ title. Milwaukee will now be a taxpayer this season for the first time since 2003, and it’s safe to assume team ownership is just fine with that.