On the podium following Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, flanked by the Larry O’Brien Trophy on one end and the Bill Russell Finals MVP Trophy on the other, Giannis Antetokounmpo reflected on everything that put him on that podium.
He thanked his former coaches and each person who helped build the foundation that put the Milwaukee Bucks on the path toward their first title. That included the man who drafted him.
As Giannis Antetokounmpo held court over the league that he now rules — a two-time MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Finals MVP and, most importantly, NBA champion — he thanked current Orlando Magic general manager John Hammond for believing in him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: “John Hammond drafted me, believed in me, believed in my family, brought them over here. He made me feel comfortable. He made me feel like I was his son when I was homesick and alone in the hotel.”
He also thanked Larry Drew, Jason Kidd & Mike Budenholzer. pic.twitter.com/m6QZWis2Pi
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 21, 2021
Someone was going to draft the scrawny 18-year-old Greek forward in the 2013 NBA Draft. Hammond was just the first one willing to take the plunge. But it was no guarantee that Antetokounmpo would develop into this player. It took a lot of work from both the player and the organization.
By the time John Hammond departed the Bucks, eventually joining Jeff Weltman with the…