After a 50-year dry spell, the Milwaukee Bucks are NBA champions again.
The Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns, 105-98, Tuesday in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the series, four games to two.
With home-court advantage, the Bucks were led to victory by the scoring and defensive dominance of their young star and two-time league most valuable player, Giannis Antetokounmpo. With 50, he scored nearly half of his team's points.
Antetokounmpo collected 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. It was the third game of the series with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds for Antetokounmpo, a dominant, debut finals performance that takes its place among some of the game’s greatest.
He shot 16 for 25 from the field and made an unbelievable 17-of-19 free throws — a spectacular performance for any shooter, let alone one who was hitting just 55.6 percent in the postseason and was ridiculed for it at times.
Antetokounmpo was awarded the Bill Russel Finals MVP trophy to chants of "MVP."
"I want to thank Milwaukee for believing in me,” he said. "I wanted to do it here in this city. I wanted to do it with these guys."
The last time the Bucks hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy — 1971 — Richard Nixon was in the White House and another young star with a bright future, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was leading the team.
Milwaukee dominated the first quarter. But the Suns, led by veteran NBA all-star Chris Paul, came roaring back. The Suns scored 31 points to the Bucks' 13 in the second quarter, giving Phoenix the lead going into halftime.
Antetokounmpo and the Bucks emerged from halftime intent on not letting the championship slip away. He scored 20 points in the third quarter, and the teams started the fourth quarter tied, 77-77.
The Bucks became the fifth team to win the NBA Finals after trailing 2-0 and the first to do it by winning the next four games since Miami against Dallas in 2006.
A subplot to the Bucks' championship win was the huge crowd outside Fiserv Forum. Thousands of fans gathered to cheer on the Bucks, many unmasked, as health officials around the country warn of the dangers of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
"Dr. Fauci is cringing at home as he’s watching our game,” ABC game announcer Jeff Van Gundy said at one point in the game.