The Understated Significance of Giannis' Second MVP Award

By Jack Caldwell
Sep. 20, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was revealed as the recipient of the 2019/20 NBA MVP award on Friday afternoon.

To the ire of fans, many who thought that Lebron James was robbed of being named as the league’s Most Valuable Player for a fifth time, the Greek Freak received 85 out of 101 first-place votes. James received the other 16 as no other player received a single one.

Giannis now becomes the 12th player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP’s joining legends like Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, and current day superstars Stephen Curry and Lebron James on the prestigious list.

The MVP also becomes the third player in history to have won both the Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. He joins ‘His Airness’ Michael Jordan, who won both in 1987/88, and Hakeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwon, the awards’ recipient in 1993/94, as the only players to have done so.

Whilst entering the record books and etching his name into history is a great accomplishment, the main goal for players in the NBA is to win a championship, and Giannis knows this.

Whilst being interviewed on TNT by Ernie Johnson, the Greek Freak was appreciative to be awarded the MVP trophy but at the same time told EJ: “Don’t call me two-time MVP until I’m a champion.”

Antetokounmpo and his Bucks were eliminated in the second-round of this year’s NBA playoffs to a red-hot Miami Heat team, leading to speculation that he may consider taking his talents elsewhere, similar to Kevin Durant in 2016.

Franchises like the Warriors, Lakers and Heat have been floated around but unless a team is willing to send everything but the kitchen sink over to Milwaukee then a deal this summer would be close to impossible.

When asked about his situation, Giannis stated that his agents would put him in a position to succeed “with the team (Bucks) or another team”, insinuating that a move could be possible. However, he later noted that his meeting with the Bucks owner went well, and that he was set on being in Milwaukee for the rest of his career.

The pressure is on though for the Greek superstar. Staying with the Bucks means that the expectations for him intensify. His goal to be regarded as one of the greatest of all time will fall short if a championship ring doesn’t appear on his resume.

Take former MVP’s and Hall of Famer’s Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson and Karl Malone as an example. All-World talents in their heyday, but never considered to be up there with the greats who reached the top of the mountain. This could very well be Giannis one day.

Although his career is still relatively fresh, the lack of team success compared to his MVP competitor Lebron James is startling. Remember, James’ team is favoured to win a championship this year, whilst Giannis’ have fell flat on their face in their last two playoff runs, both of which they were favoured to reach the finals in.

His first MVP was one to relish for Antetokounmpo. He was the league’s rising star, the new face who was coming to take the crown, and nothing could stop him at that point.

But the second one is different.

The second one brings legacy.

The second one brings pressure.

The second one brings expectation.

And the second one brings doubters.

It’s time for the Freak to sink or swim. Prove them wrong and become one of the greats. Or prove them right and have your whole world flipped upside down.