Giannis: “Kobe believed he could do it … and he had to do it”

Milwaukee Bucks is an NBA champion. The Wisconsin franchise, after 50 years, returns to crown the best league in the world. It has not been an easy road. For no one. Under the baton of Mike Budenholzer, who came to the bench in 2018, the franchise took an immediate qualitative leap, began to dominate the regular season with an iron fist and, with Giannis Antetokounmpo at the helm, the title was the objective, the one that they grasp today with all their might. They do it, mainly, because the previous falls had been very hard. On the first attempt, the Toronto Raptors, eventually champion, rallied from 2-0 in the Conference Finals. A blow that was a tremendous setback due to the proximity of glory. In the second, last season, the disaster took on greater dimensions, with the defeat in the second round against the Miami Heat. The third time, the charm.

For many reasons, both sporting and symbolic. Even with a special value of the here and now, but the prize is what it is: the Larry O’Brien. The first from Antetokounmpo, who, after the sixth and final game against Phoenix Suns, appeared before the media. Excited, he even joked with his departure from the team: “I’m out now, I want a transfer,” he joked, to the laughter of journalists, referring to his latest renewal. In December, the Greek player signed the largest contract in NBA history, 228.2 million for 5 years, after a tense wait that became eternal in Milwaukee. But he accepted the extension and, as today shows, the rest is history.

Despite the doubts at the start of the season, his objective was clear. In 2014, after his first season in the entity, he made a promise that today has been fulfilled: “I will never leave the team and the city of Milwaukee until we build a project that wins the championship,” he posted on Twitter. He has been true to his words, but also to Kobe Bryant. Two years ago, the legendary Lakers player gave Giannis a mission: “My boy … Great MVP. Next level: the championship.” The Bucks star has delivered on everything. First, with the award for the most valuable player in the competition, achieved in two consecutive seasons; now, as champion. And, in a memory sense, he also remarked it at the press conference: “Kobe Bryant thought he could do this … and he had to.”

His season and, especially, his final phase, has had a lot of mamba mentality, like his life: from his childhood in the streets of Greece, as a street vendor, to the basketball Olympus. Milwaukee hugged him and he hugged Milwaukee, where he wanted his first championship to take place today: “I could have gone to a super team and just done my part and win, but this is the hardest way to do it and this is the way we choose to do it. And we did it, we did it,” he reiterated. Few performances deserve the label of legendary more than his: 50 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks. Only Bob Pettit, in 1958, had scored so many points in a decisive Finals game. And more legend: he has joined Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only ones to win MVP awards, both in the regular season and in the playoffs, and Defensive Player of the Year.

At 26, he lays down what, until now, is the cornerstone of his legacy. One for whom the end is not in sight, but for the one who, himself, takes into account all his roots: “Many people helped me to be in this position. I have not done this alone,” he wanted to thank. At the same time, he has launched a message in line with his latest speeches at the conferences before the meetings, loaded with vital reflections: “It doesn’t matter when you’re feeling down and things just aren’t going to happen, believe it and keep trying. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t be. People told me I can’t make free throws … I made my free throws tonight and I’m a bloody champion! “, He exclaimed, euphoric. The legend will continue.

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