NBA: Antetokounmpo named MVP for second straight year

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the NBA Most Valuable Player for the second straight season on Friday.

The 25-year-old from Greece became just the third player in history to earn MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season, after Michael Jordan in 1988 and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994.

The player dubbed the “Greek Freak” became the 12th player to win back-to-back MVPs, joining Jordan, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.

Antetokounmpo received 85 first-place votes from a global panel of sports reporters and broadcasters. Los Angeles Lakers star James received 16 first-place votes and the third finalist, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, did not receive any first-place votes.

The voting was based on performance from the start of the season through March 11, when play was shut down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

It did not included the “seeding games” played when teams in contention for playoff spots once play resumed in a quarantine bubble environment at Orlando, Florida.

Antetokounmpo averaged 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists in leading the Bucks to the best regular-season record in the pandemic-disrupted season.

But, once again, the MVP will be a bittersweet honor for Antetokounmpo, whose Bucks failed to reach the NBA Finals after falling in five games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Last year, Antetokounmpo won the MVP only for eventual champion Toronto to oust the Bucks in the playoffs. (AFP)