Giannis Antetokounmpo ended one of the greatest NBA Finals ever with 50 points — and a championship Milwaukee waited 50 years to win again.
Antetokounmpo had 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots as the Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 105-98 on Tuesday night to win the series 4-2.
It was the third game this series with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds for Antetokounmpo, a dominant, debut finals performance that takes its place among some of the game's greatest.
He shot 16 for 25 from the field and made an unbelievable 17-of-19 free throws — a spectacular performance for any shooter, let alone one who was hitting just 55.6% in the postseason and was ridiculed for it at times.
He hopped around the court waving his arms with 20 seconds remaining to encourage fans to cheer, but it was way too late for that.
Their voices had been booming inside and outside for hours by then, having waited 50 years to celebrate a winner after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson led the Bucks to the championship in 1971.
The Deer District in downtown Milwaukee had become the center of the city's celebrations as the Bucks neared their first NBA title since 1971. It encompasses Fiserv Forum, several cavernous bars and restaurants, and of course, the plaza where thousands of ticketless fans have gathered to root for Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates throughout the playoffs.
City leaders predicted the throng might hit 65,000 Tuesday night, a figure that would dwarf the 10,000 or so who crammed into "Jurassic Park" outside Toronto's Scotiabank Arena when the Raptors went for the title in 2019.
The enthusiasm has surprised even the Bucks' owners, who opened the $524 million arena in 2018 and saw the plaza become a popular gathering spot the following summer, when the Bucks made it to the Eastern Conference finals.
"We hoped people would come, but I don't think we ever envisioned it like this," Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry told the Milwaukee Business Journal earlier this month. "It is a unique experience and one that is so great for the city."
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