Giannis Antetokounmpo joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the second Milwaukee Bucks player to win the Most Valuable Player award. The award was announced on Monday at a ceremony in Los Angeles.
At just 24 years old, Antetokounmpo became the third-youngest player to win the MVP over the past 40 seasons, behind Derrick Rose and LeBron James. The native of Athens, Greece, is the fifth player born outside of the United States to win MVP.
Antetokounmpo received 78 of the 101 possible first-place votes. Houston’s James Harden came in second with the other 23 first-place votes. Every voter had either Antetokounmpo or Harden No. 1 or No. 2 on their ballot.
Oklahoma City’s Paul George came in third, followed by Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Golden State’s Stephen Curry.
“MVP is not about stats and numbers. It is all about winning and all about making sure you go out there and do everything you can to win,” Antetokounmpo said Monday night. “I think that is what we did as a team.”
Antetokounmpo said his father’s death and a challenge by Kobe Bryant on Twitter to win MVP fueled his motivation.
“Definitely Kobe, he is the one that started that flame,” Antetokounmpo said.
Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game this season. He was voted a 2019 All-Star team captain alongside James. He became the first player to average 25 points and 10 rebounds per game on a team with the league’s best record since Shaquille O’Neal did it as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999-2000.
Antetokounmpo and the Bucks made it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001. They were eventually eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals by the Toronto Raptors.
The “Greek Freak” averaged 25.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per game during in the postseason.
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.