The Bucks won their first NBA title in 50 years Tuesday night, and their superstar center Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in their Game 6 clincher, 105-98, over the Phoenix Suns.
An estimated 65,000 jammed the streets outside Fiserv Arena as the Bucks won their second championship in club history and Antetokounmpo was named winner of the Bill Russell trophy as MVP of the finals. The Bucks and Antetokounmpo went 50 for 50.
“It’s been 50 years and that makes it all that much sweeter,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said while presenting the trophies.
Add it all together and the No. 34 jersey Giannis wore in the final game could be sold for as much as $500,000, according to Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions.
“It was one of the greatest NBA finals performances in history,” Goldin said in an email about a player who had 40 or more points three times and averaged 35.2 points per game in the series.
Antetokounmpo delivered despite missing the final two games of the Bucks’ six-game victory in the Eastern Conference Finals over the Atlanta Hawks because of a hyperextended left knee; he was doubtful for Game 1 of this series at Phoenix.
He played in that game, had 20 points, and proceeded to run off nights of 42, 41 and Tuesday’s 50 that included an unusual 17-19 from the free throw line. He previously struggled in that department and was 57-93 from the charity stripe during the first five games of the series. On the road he was constantly chided by Suns fans who counted up the amount of seconds it took Giannis to take his shots. He made good on 51% of his free throws in the three games at Phoenix.
Otherwise, he was spectacular on offense and defense, converting alley-oop passes for easy rim-shattering slam dunk baskets, and blocking key inside Suns shots.
“I want to thank Milwaukee for believing in me. I’m happy I was able to get it done,” the Athens-born Antetokounmpo, now 26 and in his eighth year in the league, said in a postgame interview.
Milwaukee’s first title since 1971 comes amid a boom in collectibles, which has seen record trading card valuations and the emergence of digital properties such as NFTs in the past year.
Antetokounmpo rode that wave to become only the seventh player in history to score 50 points in an NBA Finals game. He joins Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan, Rick Barry, Jerry West, LeBron James and Bob Petit. Petit, who scored 50 in 1958, is the only other center to do it.
Baylor still holds the record with 61 points in 1962.