MILWAUKEE (REUTERS) - The Milwaukee Bucks won the franchise's first National Basketball Association (NBA) championship in 50 years with a 105-98 win over the visiting Phoenix Suns on Tuesday (July 20).
With the victory, the Bucks clinched the NBA Finals 4-2 and became only the fifth team to win the best-of-seven championship series after losing the first two games.
Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpo , 26, delivered a masterpiece as he led the way for Milwaukee with a playoff career-high 50 points to secure a championship that will surely soothe the Bucks' recent history of postseason failure.
He was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable. Besides his scoring, he added 14 rebounds and five blocks.
“I want to thank Milwaukee for believing in me. I want to thank my teammates for playing hard with me,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m thankful I was able to get it done.”
Phoenix overcame a slow start to the game and led by as many as seven points early in the third quarter but could not contain Antetokounmpo down the stretch.
The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player had been questionable for the Game 1 with a hyperextended knee. But he recovered in time and was instrumental for the Bucks.
He matched Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to take NBA Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.
“He’s a special human being. I’ve learned so much from him. He’s a special leader,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “These players are champions every day. They’ve embraced getting better every day.”
An expanded “Deer District” party zone outside the sold-out 20,000-seat arena welcomed 65,000 people watching on videoscreens and they had the celebration they had hoped to enjoy.
“I’m happy I was able to do it with this team for Milwaukee,” said Antetokounmpo. “And Coach Bud says we have to do it again.”
The Suns were foiled in their bid for the first crown in their 53-year history. Phoenix guard Chris Paul, playing in the first NBA Finals of his 16-year at age 36, led the Suns with 26 points.