One of the things sports fans generally agree on is that we don’t like the idea of major markets and/or “super teams” winning championships with frequency. Obviously the Lakers and Yankees are gonna get theirs, but it’s always nice when a random team “does it the right way” and gives us a great story at the same time.
That’s your 2021 Milwaukee Bucks, and I know Philly fans don’t wanna hear it. You’re justifiably annoyed that they won it before the Sixers, but this isn’t LeBron James, part 15. It’s not Kevin Durant linking up with the Warriors. This NBA Final was interesting because two non-traditional powers went to six games and we got a break from the boring routine that’s been served up year-in and year-out.
To that point, you have to have a ton of respect for Giannis Antetokounmpo, don’t you? Look at the stat line he put up in the clinching Game 6 victory:
- 42 minutes
- 50 points on 16-25 shooting (64%)
- 17-19 from the foul line (!)
- 14 rebounds
- two assists
- five blocks
- +10 on the evening
And then after the game, he made note of his decision to stay in Milwaukee and see it out with the team that drafted him 15th overall in 2013:
“I could go to a superteam and just do my part and win a championship but this is the hard way to do it and this is the way we chose to do it. And we did it, we f—king did it.” – Giannis pic.twitter.com/vk2b8UJaH9
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 21, 2021
I love that quote. Here’s a guy who gets it. Why be the next LeBron James sidekick when you can be the first Giannis? He was so raw coming into the league, worked his butt off, committed to Milwaukee, and trusted that organization. He got better and better and put the cherry on top with an average of 35 points and 13 rebounds in a series where the Bucks went down 0-2 and then won four straight games to complete the comeback.
People like to say a lot of dumb things about Philly sports fans, but we respect greatness, and we know it when we see it. For all of the times Chipper Jones killed the Phillies, we would have loved for him to be on our side. Same with guys like Jason Witten and Jeff Conine, because these dudes were hard-working winners who played the game without bullshit and fanfare and really committed themselves to their craft. Giannis, too, is the type of person who embodies everything Philadelphia respects in an athlete. This guy just kept his head down, worked on his game, and was ultimately rewarded for his dedication, time, and effort. Now he’s a Wisconsin legend for all of time and eternity.
You’d hope the Sixers watched the Finals and learned something from it. There was massive “winner energy” emanating from Giannis, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and that entire team. They never seemed to get down on themselves, and they didn’t shy away from big moments. They looked confident in themselves and their schemes and they just made big plays and hit big shots when necessary, which Philly obviously didn’t do.
But this isn’t a post to shit on the Sixers, it’s just about giving respect where it’s due. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a quintessential sporting success story and I love the guy’s mindset and mentality. Hopefully it emanates so strongly out of Milwaukee that it floats down to the Delaware Valley and infects our sports teams.