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Your 2021 NBA Champions: The Unforgettable Milwaukee Bucks

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

The 2021 NBA season came to a close Tuesday, July 20 ,with the Milwaukee Bucks winning their second NBA title in franchise history.

The Bucks rode a strong second-half showing to a 105-98 win over the Phoenix Suns, with over 65,000 fans flooding the Deer District in downtown Milwaukee.

Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo capped off one of the most remarkable Finals performances of all-time with a monstrous double-double.

He was unstoppable, finishing with 50 points, 14 rebounds, to go along with five blocks. Most impressive was his free throw shooting where he went 17-for-19, draining the ones that mattered most.

After the game, he was overcome with emotion as the confetti rained down in Fiserv Forum.

Clinching the series in game six, Milwaukee completed an improbable comeback after losing the first two games in Phoenix.

This is an extraordinary outcome for multiple reasons.

One, the running narrative that a franchise needs a super team to win a title has been effectively debunked.

The core of Antetokounmpo, forward Khris Middleton and guard Jrue Holiday cannot be classified as such.

The Greek Freak was a rough prospect out of the draft that exceeded everyone’s expectations, while Middleton was the first-ever G-League alum to become an NBA All-Star.

The two are the longest-tenured Bucks players going back to the 2013-14 season.

Even head coach Mike Budenholzer had a checkered past of successful regular season teams that couldn’t win the big ones.

The preseason acquisition of Holiday proved to be the missing piece Milwaukee needed. His relentless defense held All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul to subpar performances this series.

Hand-in-hand with not needing a super team to win, Milwaukee’s victory gives hope to mid-markets across the NBA.

The league may be at its most marketable when powerhouses like the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics or Golden State Warriors make the Finals; but it’s the most competitive when different teams are in contention.

This postseason saw multiple organizations go further than they ever have in recent memory. Teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, as well as the Suns, had tremendous turnarounds.

Other teams at home watching this have new motivation going into a fresh season that essentially anything is possible.

The Bucks supporting cast of Holiday, forwards Bobby Portis and PJ Tucker prove that a team could be just a few transactions away from reaching their pinnacle.

Third, the lasting footnote for this Bucks title is that they were oh so close to being eliminated in the second-round.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant was literally inches over the three-point line on a last second shot in game seven of the eastern conference semifinals.

Had KD been just a few shoe sizes smaller, Milwaukee would have never got the chance for their crowning moment.

That moment - being that close to elimination - likely hardened the Bucks into the team capable of pulling off the comeback they just did.

As the saying goes, pressure can bust pipes or it can make a diamond. Milwaukee was the latter.

Lastly, the NBA community is left to ponder just how great Antetokounmpo can become. At age 26, he has a résumé that goes toe-to-toe with the best.

He’s made the All-Rookie team, became All-Star game MVP, won Most Improved player, Defensive Player of the year, a two-time MVP, now he is a champion and Finals MVP.

His decision to sign with Milwaukee long-term this past offseason paid off huge.

Only time will tell, but the man has undoubtedly earned the status of a contemporary great.

As for Phoenix, the offseason has some open-ended questions.

Paul’s late-game performances beg the question if he’s worth a $100M-plus extension into his late 30’s.

Secondly, they must address how they get better as the Western Conference is going to be fully-loaded next year.

Their Cinderella-like run probably isn’t replicable with the same pieces they have now.

A championship window is never promised, so General Manager James Jones and company have their work cut out for them this offseason.

Again, congratulations to the Milwaukee Bucks and that’s a wrap on the 2021 NBA season.


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