Sports droughts are a sore spot for communities with competitive sporting teams that have won championships in the past, only to languish without any follow-ups in the years after. The NBA team Milwaukee Bucks has been a constant presence in the league since 1968, but has not won the NBA Finals since their first in 1971. That dream came closest to reality in the 2020-21 season until the Bucks saw themselves against the Phoenix Suns in the best-of-seven for the championship. With some spirited play and very determined players, the dream turned into reality at Game 6 this past Tuesday.
ESPN tells us that the drought of half a century for the Milwaukee Bucks ended in glory at their own home turf on July 20. Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee was the stage for Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals between the Bucks and the Phoenix Suns, who were already smarting from their home court defeat for Game 5 last July 17. As the second-highest all-time winning percentage NBA team without even one Championship victory, the Suns were just as hungry as the Bucks to win; but repeated losses to Milwaukee since Game 3 led to the inevitable, with a 105-98 finish for the Bucks.
Obviously one of the driving forces in Milwaukee finally ending their NBA drought is the face of their team, Nigerian-Greek powerhouse Giannis Antetokounmpo. A solid Buck since joining the league in 2013 as 15th draft, the 26-year-old felt vindicated in his dogged determination to stick with the team, with his most recent contract extension for five years being signed prior to season. In his words, Antetokounmpo was adamant that he could not leave the “unfinished business,” and that it had to be done the hard way. So he did, contributing 50 of their 105 points, plus 14 rebounds, five blocks.
Competition for the lead between Bucks and Suns in Game 5 was expectedly fierce. After the third quarter the scores were 77 all, but Antetokounmpo shot a crucial 13 points total during Q4 to snatch the moment away from Phoenix with its power trio of Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker. The fact that Paul, the highest scorer for the Suns, only had just over half the points Giannis got, underlines the determination the Bucks had going into this game. It was obvious that Antetokounmpo would also be unanimously voted MVP, but that was just the cherry on top of a drought-ending NBA championship.
Image courtesy of CBS Sports