Milwaukee Bucks of America basketball team’s star player, Giannis Adetokunbo (aka Antetokounmpo) was left shedding tears of joy, after finally picking the award for most valuable player in the immediate past edition edition of USA’s National Basketball Association (NBA) league.
Although his team fell two games short of the NBA Finals, they won big at the league awards, with Antetokounmpo taking home the MVP plaque, over which he openly wept, while thanking his family and fans.
The show had an international flair, with three international players besides Antetokounmpo winning honors, such as France’s Rudy Gobert (Defensive Player of the Year), Slovenia’s Luka Doncic (Rookie of the Year) and Cameroon’s Pascal Siakam (Most Improved Player).
Antetokounmpo, a 24-year-old forward, who plays international games for Greece, beat Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden of Houston Rockets, who won last year.
Only Antetokounmpo (78) and Harden (23) received any first place votes on the cards, while The Bucks’ boss, Mike Budenholzer, won Coach of the Year, and their general manager, Jon Horst took Executive of the Year.
Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds while earning All-NBA first-team honors this season, his sixth with the Bucks. He led the franchise to the best record in the regular season and the Bucks reached the Eastern Conference finals.
Tears rolled down his cheeks on Monday night in Santa Monica, as Antetokounmpo thanked his mother Veronica and brothers in the audience at Barker Hanger.
He also credited his late father, a Nigerian immigrant, , Charles, who died in 2017 at the age of 54, for pushing him toward his goals and his mother for the elderly role of adviser in his career, while not leaving out his team-mates and Bucks’ coaching staff for their help.
Antetokunmpo managed to gather himself, and said: “You don’t see the future right? And if you have a good parent, your parent sees the future for you and she always saw the future in us.
“She always believed in us, she was always there for us. She’s the foundation of this family. You’re my true hero, you’re my true hero.
“Obviously my dad is not here with me. Two years ago I had to go in my head that I’m going to be the best player in the league, that I’m going to do whatever it takes to help my team win and that I’m going to win the MVP and every day that I step on the floor I always think about my dad.
“MVP is not about stats and numbers, and obviously James Harden had unbelievable numbers and Paul George also, but it’s about winning.
“We created great habits throughout the season and were able to stick by them, and that’s why we were able to have a chance in every single game we played and were able to win 60 games.”