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Butler County's great daily newspaper

Bucks end 50-year wait for another NBA title

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts Tuesday while holding the NBA Championship trophy, left, and Finals MVP trophy.
Antetokounmpo scores 50 in Game 6 clincher

MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had the Larry O’Brien Trophy in one arm, the NBA Finals MVP trophy in the other and there was a cigar on the table in front of him.

All the work it took to lift the Milwaukee Bucks from a team that won 15 games when he was a rookie to one with 16 wins this postseason was finally finished.

“This is time to celebrate,” Antetokounmpo said.

Milwaukee waited 50 years for that.

Antetokounmpo ended one of the greatest NBA Finals ever with 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots as the Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98 on Tuesday night to win an entertaining series 4-2 and cap off a joyous return to a fan-filled postseason after last year’s NBA bubble.

It was the third game this 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. Antetokounmpo finished with 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 61.8%, the first player in finals history to reach those numbers.

He shot 16 for 25 from the field and made an unbelievable 17-of-19 free throws — a spectacular showing for any shooter, let alone one who was hitting just 55.6% in the postseason and was ridiculed for it at times.

“People told me I can’t make free throws and I made them tonight. And I’m a freaking champion,” Antetokounmpo said.

He hopped around the court waving his arms with 20 seconds remaining to encourage fans to cheer, but there was no need. Their voices had been booming inside and outside for hours by then, having waited 50 years to celebrate a winner after Lew Alcindor — before becoming Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — and Oscar Robertson led the Bucks to their first championship in 1971.