A new NBA champion has been crowned with the Milwaukee Bucks defeating the Phoenix Suns in six games to be the last team standing in what was a wild 2020-21 season.
The championship was the second in Bucks history and first since 1971 when they were led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who went on to join the Los Angeles Lakers and have one of the greatest careers in NBA history.
With the Lakers being eliminated by the Suns in the first round this year, Abdul-Jabbar quickly shifted his allegiance to the Bucks, with who he began his career.
Abdul-Jabbar celebrated the Bucks winning it all on Tuesday night and was joined by a familiar face in former long-time Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti:
Vitti began his career with the Lakers when Abdul-Jabbar was on the team in 1984 and remained in the organization until retiring in 2016 when Kobe Bryant also retired.
While both Abdul-Jabbar and Vitti presumably would have preferred the Lakers winning another championship this year, that just wasn’t in the cards with the defending champs being derailed by injuries after a short offseason.
The hope is that led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they can get healthy and be back in the mix next year, challenging the Bucks and all the other contenders for league supremacy once again.
Antetokounmpo appreciative of Bryant pushing him to be great
The biggest reason the Bucks are now champions was the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had a historic 50-point performance in Game 6 to cap off an incredible overall one.
He is someone who looked up to Bryant growing up and after winning, expressed appreciation to the Lakers legend for pushing him to be great with a challenge a few years back.
“It means a lot. It started almost like a joke at first. It was a challenge to players, and I was like, let me just shoot my shot, kind of like, what’s my challenge, and he was like MVP. But at first I was, like, joking. I didn’t think he was going to respond to me,” Antetokounmpo said.
“But when he did, he made me believe. I’m like, Kobe Bryant thinks I can do this and I can play at a high level and build my team and win my MVP? I had to do it. I had to work hard. And to not necessarily let him down. I had to work hard because people believed that I can do it. That’s the thing. I’m a people pleaser. I don’t like letting people down. I don’t like — when I signed with the city of Milwaukee, that’s the main reason I signed because I didn’t want to let the people down and think that I didn’t work extremely hard for them, which I do. But to be able to accomplish those things, it’s crazy. It’s unreal. It’s freaking unreal. I can’t believe it.”
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