Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has won his second consecutive NBA MVP award, the league announced Friday the 18th of September.
Antetokounmpo joins Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as back-to-back MVPs.
Antetokounmpo received 85 of 101 first-place votes and earned 962 total points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters as well as the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award fan vote.
James received the other 16 first-place votes and finished in second place with 753 points. Houston Rockets guard James Harden (367 points) finished third, followed by Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (200 points) and LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (168 points).
Antetokounmpo joins Jordan (1987-88 season) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94 season) as the only players to win the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.
Standing in front of thousands of fans at a downtown rally in Milwaukee last July, the Bucks superstar politely asked them for a favor.
“Please, after this day don’t call me MVP until I win it again next year,” he asked.
Although Milwaukee fell short of a title, he returned to average 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists this season.
“Obviously, I’m happy for tonight and I’m happy for this award, but I always look forward,” Antetokounmpo said during Friday’s virtual news conference. “I always try to figure out, how can I get better? How can I do it again? How can I do it for multiple years to come? How can I be a champion? I’m happy. I’m grateful, but how can I do it again?”
Antetokounmpo has a decision to make in the offseason about signing an extension with Milwaukee or entering the 2020-21 season in the final year of his contract, making him eligible for free agency in 2021. Right now, he’s using the time to focus on family, including his infant son, Liam, while spending time in Athens, Greece.
“As long as everybody’s fighting for the same thing … which is to be a champion, I don’t see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years,” Antetokounmpo told Ernie Johnson on NBA TV after accepting the trophy.
During a three-hour lunch meeting last week in Milwaukee, Bucks co-owner and governor Marc Lasry made it clear to Antetokounmpo that the franchise is willing to spend into the luxury tax to deliver him a championship-level supporting cast, sources told ESPN.
“Obviously, I would like to keep that conversation I had with the ownership and my coach and the general manager private, but at the end of the day, every team has got to improve. It’s simple. You’ve got to be better than what you were last year. If you did not win the whole thing, you’ve got to get better,” Antetokounmpo said. “If you win the whole thing, you’ve got to get better and do it again. So, for now, our team has got to get better. I think we have great talent and as long as we improve individually and improve as a team we’re gonna be in a good spot.
“I left the meeting encouraged and was happy with what we discussed and for now, we’re on the same page. I was happy that they came and we had this long conversation about how we’re gonna get better and about things for the future, but, as I said, I was happy,” he continued. “I left the conversation encouraged, but I’ve been encouraged my whole career in Milwaukee. I know that we’ve gotten better each year and I know that Milwaukee has great people that view every year the same I do every year, which is to play well, improve and win it all. So, I’ve always been encouraged, but after the meeting I was encouraged, too.”
Despite finishing with the best record in the regular season, Milwaukee failed to reach the Finals, losing in five games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Antetokounmpo posted a 31.9 player efficiency rating — the highest in a season in NBA history, per ESPN Stats & Information data. He led the NBA in field goal percentage allowed at the rim (minimum: 100 FGA defended) and field goal percentage allowed as the closest defender (min.: 500 FGA defended), according to Second Spectrum research. As great as his numbers were, Antetokounmpo has his sights set on getting better this offseason.
“Going into the next year, obviously, I want to be a better jump-shooter. Every year, I want to be a better jump-shooter,” Antetokounmpo said. “I want to be able to help my teammates better, know where they are at any time when I’m on the court. I want to be able to get lower, be able to guard, 1 through 5, but even better. There’s so many other things that I want to do better, and I’ve done it every single year and I’m going to do it again.”
An article via ESPN