The Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo and traded for Khris Middleton in 2013, then finished as a 15-win team in the duo’s first season. Eight years later, the two are NBA Champions — bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Milwaukee for the first time in a half-century.
The Bucks came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Phoenix Suns in six games. Antetokounmpo was crowned Finals MVP, finishing with 50 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks.
Where it started: In the summer of 2013, then-Bucks GM John Hammond selected Giannis with the 15th overall pick. Later that week, the Bucks landed Middleton — a Pistons 2012 second-round pick — in exchange for guard Brandon Jennings.
How it grew: With Giannis winning MVP and his supermax eligibility looming, owner Marc Lasry and GM Jon Horst doubled down by signing Middleton to a five-year contract. This past offseason, they gave away three first-rounders (and two pick swaps) for two-way specialist Jrue Holiday. With an established core around them, Giannis signed the supermax extension to stay with Milwaukee. Then, the Bucks signed defensive specialist P.J. Tucker midseason.
The Moments: The Bucks’ biggest moment in reaching the finals came when they took down the Nets in Brooklyn during Game 7 of the semifinals. Giannis answered Kevin Durant’s 48 points with 40 of his own, and the Bucks advanced following an overtime thriller. Then in the Finals, there was the block in Game 4, the steal and alley-oop in Game 5, and the 50-point performance to close it out.
The Milwaukee Bucks looked in the face of adversity and brought it home, despite all odds against them.
“I could go to a superteam… but this is the hard way to do it, and we did it. We f—ing did it,” Giannis said.