Giannis Antetokounmpo is the biggest name to hit the NBA since Kevin Durant. He has patiently stayed with the Milwaukee Bucks through thick and thin since the Bucks made him the number-fifteen (first round) draft pick back in 2013. Now he is being rewarded, big time.
Antetokounmpo Scores December Bonus
Antetokounmpo was born in Greece to Nigerian parents and was playing basketball in the Greek leagues before being drafted into the NBA. Seven years later, he is the NBA’s reigning two-time Most Valuable Player and has just signed a multiyear extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, the only NBA team he has ever played for.
Although Antetokounmpo could have gone to play for practically any NBA team in the league, he choose to stay in Milwaukee where he has languished on a second rate team for seven years now.
However, Antetokounmpo just posted on Twitter, “This is my home, this is my city. I’m blessed to be able to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next five years. Let’s make these years count. The show goes on, let’s get it.” According to his agent, Alex Saratsis, the deal with the Bucks is for the full five-year $228 million supermax which includes an opt-out after the fourth year.
MVP Honors Have Their Rewards
Antetokounmpo is coming off a career year during which he became just the third player in the history of the NBA to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season. He joins the lofty company of Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan.
According to ESPN stats, Antetokounmpo had a player efficiency rating last year of 31.9, which is the highest ever recorded in NBA history. He averaged 29.5 points with 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game, which no other player has ever accomplished.
After the signing ceremony for his new ‘supermax’ contract, Antetokounmpo told reporters, “This is a big moment for me and my family and I want to thank the Bucks organization for believing in us. You took a chance on us eight years ago and now putting my signature on a contract like this is unreal.”
Although Milwaukee, for the past two years in a row, has finished with the best record in the NBA, the team has faltered in reaching the Finals both years. The Bucks had a 2-0 game lead over the Toronto Raptors in the conference finals year before last but somehow managed to lose the series in six games. Last year in the bubble down in Orlando, Milwaukee did not even get that far losing to the Miami Heat in five games.
In fact, despite all their regular season success, Milwaukee has only reached the conference finals once in the entire seven years that Antetokounmpo has been on the Bucks team.
The Bucks Want A Title With Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee has not made it to the NBA Finals since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on the team in 1974. Kareem stuck it out in Milwaukee for six seasons, during which he was three times NBA Most Valuable Player, but, after six he asked to be traded.
In 2019, Kareem had this to say about Antetokounmpo, “I think he should look into his own heart and make a decision based on what’s important to him and his professional life.” The Greek Freak stuck it out in Milwaukee and now he just signed a contract worth more that Kareem ever dreamed of.
When Antetokounmpo first joined the Bucks, he was averaging only 6.8 points per game as a rookie, only starting in 23 games. However, by his third year he was scoring 16.9 points per game and earned the Most Improved Player in the NBA honors. In year four, he made his first All-Star appearance.
The Bucks co-owners put out a statement for the press that read, “Giannis is a once in a generation player and we are beyond excited for him to remain with the Bucks.”