Antetokounmpo’s win marks the second consecutive year he has taken home the prestigious honour — and the second time in league history a player has won back-to-back MVPs by the age of 25.
In winning the award, Antetokounmpo becomes just the third player in NBA history to win both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, joining Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94) and Michael Jordan (1987-88).
“Michael Jordan, one of the best players who’s ever done it, if not the best,” Antetokounmpo said. “Hakeem, a guy that I look up to, he came from where I’m from, Nigeria, where I have roots. … Just being in the same sentence with them, that means a lot to me.”
Antetokounmpo received 85 of 101 possible first-place votes, and earned 962 total points from a global panel of sportswriters, broadcasters and the fan vote. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James received the other 16 first-place votes and finished in second place with 753 points. Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam finished in 10th place.
Antetokounmpo guided the Bucks to a league-best 53-12 record prior to the NBA’s COVID-19-induced shutdown in mid-March and posted unprecedented personal numbers, averaging 29.5 points 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game — a stat line which had never been achieved over a full season before.
“It’s been a long journey,” Antetokounmpo said. “The people that know me, the people that know my story, you can never take these moments for granted.”
However, the Bucks’ dominance did not sustain through the post-season. Milwaukee was eliminated in the second round by the Miami Heat — a series in which Antetokounmpo dealt with an ankle injury that kept him out of the series-deciding sixth game, and held him to just 11:29 of playing time in the fifth game.
Throughout nine games in the playoffs this year, Antetokounmpo averaged 26.7 points, 13.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
“I’m happy for this, I’m happy for this award,” Antetokounmpo said. “But I want more. … I’ve got to keep getting better. I want to be a champion.”
The premature post-season exit has spawned rumours about how long Antetokounmpo may remain in Milwaukee. The 25-year-old has one year remaining on his current contract and is not eligible for free agency until next off-season at the earliest.
However, this off-season he does have the chance to sign a super-max extension worth around $254 million over five years, which the Bucks are reportedly planning to offer him once free agency begins.
“As long as everybody’s fighting for the same thing … which is to be a champion, I don’t see why not to be in Milwaukee for the next 15 years,” Antetokounmpo said.