In the biggest game of his life, Giannis Antetokounmpo just put on one of the best performances in the history of basketball as the Milwaukee Bucks clinched their first NBA championship since 1971 with a 105-98 Game 6 victory over the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night.
Are you ready for this? Antetokounmpo went for 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks on 16-of-25 shooting, including 17 of 19 from the free-throw line. Yes, you're reading that last part correctly. Giannis, whose free-throw bumbles became a story all to itself throughout the playoffs, shot 17 of 19 to win a championship. Incredible.
Antetokounmpo's 50 points are the most in a championship closeout game since the NBA/ABA merger, besting the 45 that Michael Jordan put up when the Chicago Bulls closed out the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals. If you trace it back before the merger, Giannis' 50 is tied for the most ever with Bob Petit, who put up his own 50-piece in 1958 when the St. Louis Hawks closed out the Boston Celtics in Game 6.
Most points in a potential title-clinching game:— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) July 21, 2021
1. Bob Pettit, 50 (1958)
t2. Michael Jordan, 45 (1998)
t2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, 45 (2021)
It's not the only elite group Giannis joined, as he became the second player in history (Shaquille O'Neal in 2000) to put up three 40-point, 10-rebound games in a single NBA Finals.
Evidenced by those aforementioned five blocked shots, Giannis did it on both ends in Game 6. He was everywhere. Sprinting full court for 42 minutes. To say a great athlete "was on a mission" is quite the overused cliche, but there's no other way to frame the energy and ferocity with which Giannis played Tuesday night. He would not be denied. He overpowered and out-ran everybody in front of him. You could honestly go your whole life and never see another performance like that in that big a game.
Congrats to Giannis and the Bucks. What a series. What a season.