MVP in the NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo is the most valuable player of the season
Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo has been voted Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the NBA season. The 24-year-old from the Milwaukee Bucks received 78 out of 101 possible votes for first place. Last year's winner James Harden (Houston Rockets) finished second at the ceremony in Santa Monica, California.
The best young player of the year (rookie of the year) was, as expected, the 20-year-old Luka Doncic. The Slovenian European champion had played alongside Dallas Mavericks on the side of the now retired Dirk Nowitzki in his first NBA year, averaging 21.2 points.
"Every day I'm on the pitch, I think of my father," said MVP Antetokounmpo in his speech in tears. Charles Antetokounmpo died in 2017 at the age of 53. Giannis Antetokounmpo had grown up in poor conditions in Athens, the son of Nigerian immigrants.
Antetokounmpo is only the fifth NBA MVP who was not born on the US mainland. His predecessors were Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria), Tim Duncan (US Virgin Islands), Steve Nash (Canada) and Nowitzki. He is also the third youngest player since 1980 after Derrick Rose and Michael Jordan, who received the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
Greek international Antetokounmpo scored an average of 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds in the previous main round. Led by the "Greek Freak", the Bucks ended the regular season as the best team with 60 wins and 22 defeats. In the play-off semi-final Milwaukee but failed at the eventual champion Toronto Raptors (2: 4).
Before Antetokounmpo only one Bucks player had received the award. The legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, record winner, received the MVP Award in 1971, 1972 and 1974 - later three more times for his performance in the Los Angeles Lakers jersey (1976, 1977, 1980).