Giannis Antetokounmpo won his first NBA MVP award on Monday at the NBA Awards.
The Milwaukee Bucks superstar takes home the Maurice Podoloff Trophy after averaging career highs in points (27.7), rebounds (12.5), assists (5.9), and true shooting percentage (64.4). He led the NBA in PER (30.9) and win shares per 48 minutes (.292) while leading the Bucks to a league-best 60 regular-season wins.
"I want to thank the front office and ownership for believing in me when I was 18 years old back in Greece. They allowed me to lead this team, and trust me," an emotional Antetokounmpo said. "I want to thank the city of Milwaukee and my country Greece and Nigeria for always supporting me. Back in Greece, they watch the games at 5 a.m. They stay up and send me supporting messages."
Antetokounmpo was also emotional while discussing his late father, Charles, who died in 2017.
"Two years ago I had the goal in my head that I'm going to be the best player in the league, (and) do whatever it takes to help my team win and I'm going to win the MVP," he said. "Every time I step on the floor I think about my dad and that motivates me and pushes me to play hard. Even when my body is sore, when I don't feel like playing, I was going to show up and do the right thing."
Antetokounmpo won four Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards in 2018-19.
The 24-year-old Greece native becomes just the fourth non-U.S. born player to win NBA MVP, after Hakeem Olajuwon, Steve Nash, and Dirk Nowitzki.