by Alex Poletti
It was certainly an emotional night for Milwaukee Bucks phenom Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won the first MVP award of his promising career at the age of 24 on Monday. Among those he thanked in his gracious 10-minute speech were his parents and the Bucks organization, but none were as instrumental to his success, Antetotokounmpo says, than LeBron James’ strained left groin.
“There are so many people I have to thank for this incredible honor tonight,” the Greek Freak said during the awards ceremony with tears in his eyes. “My family is the reason I am who I am today. And I have to thank my second family, the Bucks organization and the city of Milwaukee. However, there is no one more important to my success here tonight than LeBron’s left groin. Without him straining, I don’t think I would be here.”
Perennial MVP-threat LeBron James was performing admirably in his first season in Los Angeles, averaging 27.4 points with 8.4 rebounds. However, he was limited to just 55 games due to a left groin strain. In his absence, Antetokounmpo emerged as the star of the league, with plus offensive tools and stellar defense.
“Could I have won this award without [LeBron’s stained left groin]? Maybe. But that really gave me the confidence I needed to finish the season on top.”
Always a superstar, Giannis came into his own this season as the king of the Eastern Conference, averaging a double-double over the course of the season with 27.7 points.
“I’d also like to thank the competition I faced this year, mainly because there wasn’t any in the East. Having almost every other talented player in the other conference was huge for my stats.”
Out of the five finalists, Antetokounmpo was the only one out of the East. In the East, the only other player of note left is Kawhi Leonard, who came into national prominence after his Finals performance against the Golden State Warriors.
“My journey in the NBA is far from over,” Antetokounmpo concluded. “Hopefully, this won’t be the last time I’m up here giving a speech for 45 minutes.”
Before he finally ceded the stage, Giannis had a challenge for his Eastern rival.
“Now I have a word to say to Kawhi,” Giannis said with new-found vigor. “Sign with the Clippers. That way I can repeat without a challenge.”