Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player – beating the likes of James Harden and Paul George.
The Milwaukee Bucks forward picked up the league’s most prestigious prize for the first time at the NBA Awards on Monday night.
He denied Harden a second consecutive victory, and became the third youngest player to be named MVP over the past 40 years.
Accepting the award at a ceremony in California, the 24-year-old broke down in tears as he thanked his “hero” mother and late father for supporting him.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “My goal is to win a championship. As my dad told me, always want more but never be greedy.
“My goal is to win a championship and I’m going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”
Antetokounmpo’s impressive 2018-19 season saw him notch up an average of 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game, leading the Bucks to their best record since the 1980-81 season.
He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Bucks history to be named MVP.
“We are beyond proud of Giannis for earning his first MVP award,” said Bucks general manager Jon Horst, quoted on the team’s official website.
“This well-deserved honour is due to his relentless hard work and dedication in becoming the most impactful player in the NBA.
“Giannis propelled the Bucks to great heights last season with his leadership, drive and unselfish play.
“His grace on and off the court has made him one of the most admired players in the world.”
Former winners of the award include Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant – as well as four-time victor LeBron James.
Other winners at the 2019 awards included Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, who won the Rookie of the Year award, and Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors, who was named Most Improved Player.
Provided by Press Association Sport
NBA stars Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Kemba Walker, and WNBA star Maya Moore along with filmmaker Spike Lee were the judges in the 15th edition of Quai54 dunk contest on Saturday in Paris.
The contest was held at the Emile Anthoine Stadium near the Eiffel Tower and saw Slam dunk champion Isaiah Rivera get the most points for his dunks – some of which featured Detroit Pistons NBA player Blake Griffin.
The Puerto Rican was up against three of the top dunkers in the world, beating Frenchman Guy Dupuy, American Jordan Southerland and Congolese Daniel Kabeya to the victory.
A tumultuous week was capped for the New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center when they took Zion Williamson with the number one pick in the NBA Draft 2019.
The Duke University product wept as he stood by his mother’s side after shaking NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s hand in New York.
The 18-year-old becomes the face of the southern side which recently traded former number one pick Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In an interview after his selection, the Duke product seemingly referred to Davis’ imminent departure, tempering expectations given he is the most hyped college prospect since Davis.
“I’m just going to let (New Orleans fans) know I’m going to give them everything I’ve got,” Williamson told ESPN.
“I’m going to try to turn it around with the help of team-mates because I understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
“And I also understand that I’m a rookie and I have a lot to learn,” Williamson said.
“I just need them to know they’re getting a player who’s going to give them everything he’s got.”
The Memphis Grizzlies took Ja Morant with the number two pick.
The 19-year-old point guard will experience a homecoming of sorts when he heads to Tennessee, having attended the nearby Murray State University in Kentucky.
“What’s up Grizzlies fans … I’m ready to get in and come work in Memphis. Grit and grind, baby,” Morant said in a video posted on the Grizzlies’ Twitter page.
Canadian RJ Barrett, who proudly displayed the maple leaf pattern lining on his suit prior to the draft, was taken by the New York Knicks with the number three pick.
The 19-year-old small forward, a proven performer with Williamson at Duke, will carry a huge amount of expectation into Madison Square Garden as the Knicks seek to recover from a disappointing season which saw them finish bottom of the Eastern Conference.