After a painful exit from the playoffs last month, the Milwaukee Bucks had plenty of reasons to celebrate Monday night after taking home some impressive hardware at the NBA awards in Santa Monica, Calif.
Giannis Antetokounmpo earned his first Most Valuable Player award after leading the Bucks to a league-best 60-22 regular-season record and the franchise's first Eastern Conference finals appearance since the 2000-01 season.
The 24-year-old native of Athens, Greece, averaged a career-high 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 57.8 percent from the field before media voting for the awards closed at the end of the regular season.
In addition to Antetokounmpo, the other two finalists for the MVP award were Houston's James Harden, who averaged 36.1 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds for the 53-29 Rockets; and Oklahoma City's Paul George, who put up 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists to help lead the Thunder to a 49-33 record.
Antetokounmpo was a resounding winner. He received 941 points and 78 first-place votes in the balloting — 165 points more than Harden, who received 23 first-place votes.
Antetokounmpo's win was the fourth time a Bucks player has won the MVP award and the first time since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won in 1973-74. Abdul-Jabber, who struggled Monday night pronouncing Antetokounmpo's name while introducing highlights of Antetokounmpo's play this season, also won the league's top award in 1970-71 and 1971-72.
"MVP is not about stats and numbers, and obviously James Harden had unbelievable numbers and Paul George also, but obviously it's about winning," Antetokounmpo said backstage. "We created great habits throughout the season and were able to stick by them, and that's why we were able to have a chance in every single game we played and were able to win 60 games."
Mike Budenholzer, in his first season as Milwaukee's head coach, was named Coach of the Year for the second time in his career. He joined former Bucks coach Don Nelson as the only coaches in franchise history to win the award.
"What they did on the court this year, including the playoffs, was special," Budenholzer said backstage. "We weren't good enough in the end, but we certainly feel like we have enough talent, we have enough character to be a team that's playing in the finals and winning a championship."
Bucks general manager Jon Horst took home the Executive of the Year award for the first time. Horst made key acquisitions for the Bucks in the offseason — including Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova and Pat Connaughton — while also pulling off a mid-season trade for veteran George Hill, who played an important role for the Bucks in the playoffs.
Horst is the second general manager in franchise history to win Executive of the Year. John Hammond, now GM of the Orlando Magic, won the award with the Bucks after the 2009-10 season.
“We are thrilled for Coach Bud in winning NBA Coach of the Year,” Horst said in a statement on Budenholzer's honor. “In his first season, Bud instilled a new culture and dynamic style of play that led us to 60 wins and the best record in the league."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver presented Antetokounmpo with the MVP award at the end of the awards show, which ran over two hours at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.
"I'm extremely blessed," Antetokounmpo said while becoming emotional delivering his acceptance speech. "I want to thank the front office, the ownership for believing in me when I was 18 years old playing in Greece. They allowed me to lead this team, trusted me."
"I want to thank my dad," Antetokounmpo said of his late father Charles, who passed away at age 54 before the 2017-18 season. "Obviously, my dad is not here with me. Two years ago I had the goal in my head that I'm going to be the best player in the league. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help my team win and I'm going to win the MVP. Every day I step on the floor, I always think about my dad, and that motivates me to push harder and move forward even though my body is sore, even though I don't feel like playing, I always go and show up and I always go and do the right thing."
Antetokounmpo was also a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year award, which went to Utah's Rudy Gobert, a 26-year-old French center who averaged 15.9 points and 12.9 rebounds while blocking 2.3 shots a game for the Jazz, who finished the season with a 50-32 record.
"I never thought I would be able to do that when I started basketball playing in France," Gobert said backstage. "I didn't know an NBA player, I didn't know nothing about basketball. I was just having fun."
Lou Williams was voted the Sixth Man of the Year for the second season in a row and third time in his career, tying former Los Angeles Clipper guard Jamal Crawford.
The guard won for the first time in 2015 with Toronto.
Williams beat out teammate Montrezl Harrell, with whom he formed the highest-scoring bench duo in NBA history last season, and Domantas Sabonis of Indiana.
Williams became the career leader in points off the bench during the season.
"This one was different because I kind of went into the season wanting this one. In years past I always just played and lived with whatever happened," he said. "I felt like this one was going to be a legacy piece."
Pascal Siakam of the NBA champion Toronto Raptors earned Most Improved Player.
The 25-year-old from Cameroon averaged 16.9 points and started 79 of 80 regular-season games for the Raptors in his third year with the team.
Siakam had 26 20-point outings after scoring 20 points in a game only once in his first two seasons. He then scored 32 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Siakam beat out De'Aaron Fox of Sacramento and D'Angelo Russell of Brooklyn.
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks easily won Rookie of the Year.
The 20-year-old small forward from Slovenia accepted his trophy from RJ Barrett, who went to the New York Knicks as the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft last week.
Doncic was the No. 3 pick last year.
The other finalists were Deandre Ayton of Phoenix and Trae Young of Atlanta.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson shared the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The former rivals took turns holding their trophies while each other spoke.
Bird said the NBA is in good hands with today's talented athletes and he urged them to keep the game the same so it continues on for future generations.
Johnson starred for the Los Angeles Lakers and Bird with the Boston Celtics.
Mike Conley Jr., newly traded to the Utah Jazz, claimed trophies for Teammate and Sportsmanship of the Year.
Conley earned the awards for his 12-year tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards received the NBA Cares Community Assist honor.
NBA Most Valuable Players
2019 - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee
2018 - James Harden, Houston
2017 - Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City
2016 - u-Stephen Curry, Golden State
2015 - Stephen Curry, Golden State
2014 - Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
2013 - LeBron James, Miami
2012 - LeBron James, Miami
2011 - Derrick Rose, Chicago
2010 - LeBron James, Cleveland
2009 - LeBron James, Cleveland
2008 - Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
2007 - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
2006 - Steve Nash, Phoenix
2005 - Steve Nash, Phoenix
2004 - Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
2003 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2002 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2001 - Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
2000 - Shaquille O'Neal, L.A. Lakers
1999 - Karl Malone, Utah
1998 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1997 - Karl Malone, Utah
1996 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1995 - David Robinson, San Antonio
1994 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
1993 - Charles Barkley, Phoenix
1992 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1991 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1990 - Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers
1989 - Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers
1988 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1987 - Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers
1986 - Larry Bird, Boston
1985 - Larry Bird, Boston
1984 - Larry Bird, Boston
1983 - Moses Malone, Philadelphia 76ers
1982 - Moses Malone, Houston
1981 - Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers
1980 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers
1979 - Moses Malone, Houston
1978 - Bill Walton, Portland
1977 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers
1976 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers
1975 - Bob McAdoo, Buffalo
1974 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee
1973 - Dave Cowens, Boston
1972 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee
1971 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee
1970 - Willis Reed, New York
1969 - Wes Unseld, Baltimore
1968 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers
1967 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers
1966 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers
1965 - Bill Russell, Boston
1964 - Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
1963 - Bill Russell, Boston
1962 - Bill Russell, Boston
1961 - Bill Russell, Boston
1960 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors
1959 - Bob Pettit, St. Louis
1958 - Bill Russell, Boston
1957 - Bob Cousy, Boston
1956 - Bob Pettit, St. Louis
NBA Coaches of the Year
2019 - Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee
2018 - Dwane Casey, Toronto
2017 - Mike D'Antoni, Houston
2016 - Steve Kerr, Golden State
2015 - Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta
2014 - Gregg Popovich, San Antonio
2013 - George Karl, Denver
2012 - Gregg Popovich, San Antonio
2011 - Tom Thibodeau, Chicago
2010 - Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City
2009 - Mike Brown, Cleveland
2008 - Byron Scott, New Orleans
2007 - Sam Mitchell, Toronto
2006 - Avery Johnson, Dallas
2005 - Mike D'Antoni, Phoenix
2004 - Hubie Brown, Memphis
2003 - Gregg Popovich, San Antonio
2002 - Rick Carlisle, Detroit
2001 - Larry Brown, Philadelphia
2000 - Glenn Rivers, Orlando
1999 - Mike Dunleavy, Portland
1998 - Larry Bird, Indiana
1997 - Pat Riley, Miami
1996 - Phil Jackson, Chicago
1995 - Del Harris, L.A. Lakers
1994 - Lenny Wilkens, Atlanta
1993 - Pat Riley, New York
1992 - Don Nelson, Golden State
1991 - Don Chaney, Houston
1990 - Pat Riley, L.A. Lakers
1989 - Cotton Fitzsimmons, Phoenix
1988 - Doug Moe, Denver
1987 - Mike Schuler, Portland
1986 - Mike Fratello, Atlanta
1985 - Don Nelson, Milwaukee
1984 - Frank Layden, Utah
1983 - Don Nelson, Milwaukee
1982 - Gene Shue, Washington
1981 - Jack McKinney, Indiana
1980 - Bill Fitch, Boston
1979 - Cotton Fitzsimmons, Kansas City
1978 - Hubie Brown, Atlanta
1977 - Tom Nissalke, Houston
1976 - Bill Fitch, Cleveland
1975 - Phil Johnson, Kansas City-Omaha
1974 - Ray Scott, Detroit
1973 - Tom Heinsohn, Boston
1972 - Bill Sharman, L.A. Lakers
1971 - Dick Motta, Chicago
1970 - Red Holzman, New York
1969 - Gene Shue, Baltimore
1968 - Richie Guerin, St. Louis
1967 - Johnny Kerr, Chicago
1966 - Dolph Schayes, Philadelphia
1965 - Red Auerbach, Boston
1964 - Alex Hannum, San Francisco
1963 - Harry Gallatin, St. Louis
NBA Rookies of the Year
2019 - Luka Doncic, Dallas
2018 - Ben Simmons, Philadelphia
2017 - Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee
2016 - u-Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota
2015 - Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota
2014 - Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia
2013 - u-Damian Lillard, Portland
2012 - Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
2011 - u-Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers
2010 - Tyreke Evans, Sacramento
2009 - Derrick Rose, Chicago
2008 - Kevin Durant, Seattle
2007 - Brandon Roy, Portland
2006 - Chris Paul, New Orleans
2005 - Emeka Okafor, Charlotte
2004 - LeBron James, Cleveland
2003 - Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix
2002 - Pau Gasol, Memphis
2001 - Mike Miller, Orlando
2000 - Elton Brand, Chicago, and Steve Francis, Houston
1999 - Vince Carter, Toronto
1998 - Tim Duncan, San Antonio
1997 - Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
1996 - Damon Stoudamire, Toronto
1995 - Grant Hill, Detroit, and Jason Kidd, Dallas
1994 - Chris Webber, Golden State
1993 - Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando
1992 - Larry Johnson, Charlotte
1991 - Derrick Coleman, New Jersey
1990 - u-David Robinson, San Antonio
1989 - Mitch Richmond, Golden State
1988 - Mark Jackson, New York
1987 - Chuck Person, Indiana
1986 - Patrick Ewing, New York
1985 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1984 - u-Ralph Sampson, Houston
1983 - Terry Cummings, San Diego
1982 - Buck Williams, New Jersey
1981 - Darrell Griffith, Utah
1980 - Larry Bird, Boston
1979 - Phil Ford, Kansas City
1978 - Walter Davis, Phoenix
1977 - Adrian Dantley, Buffalo
1976 - Alvan Adams, Phoenix
1975 - Keith Wilkes, Golden State
1974 - Ernie DiGregorio, Buffalo
1973 - Bob McAdoo, Buffalo
1972 - Sidney Wicks, Portland
1971 - Dave Cowens, Boston, and Geoff Petrie, Portland
1970 - Lew Alcindor, Milwaukee
1969 - Wes Unseld, Baltimore
1968 - Earl Monroe, Baltimore
1967 - Dave Bing, Detroit
1966 - Rick Barry, San Francisco
1965 - Willis Reed, New York
1964 - Jerry Lucas, Cincinnati
1963 - Terry Dischinger, Chicago
1962 - Walt Bellamy, Chicago
1961 - Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
1960 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia
1959 - Elgin Baylor, Minneapolis
1958 - Woody Sauldsberry, Philadelphia
1957 - Tom Heinsohn, Boston
1956 - Maurice Stokes, Rochester
1955 - Bob Pettit, Milwaukee
1954 - Ray Felix, Baltimore
1953 - Don Meineke, Fort Wayne
NBA Sixth Man Award Winners
2019 - Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers
2018 - Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers
2017 - Eric Gordon, Houston
2016 - Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers
2015 - Lou Williams, Toronto
2014 - Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers
2013 - J.R. Smith, New York
2012 - James Harden, Oklahoma City
2011 - Lamar Odom, L.A. Lakers
2010 - Jamal Crawford, Atlanta
2009 - Jason Terry, Dallas
2008 - Manu Ginobili, San Antonio
2007 - Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix
2006 - Mike Miller, Memphis
2005 - Ben Gordon, Chicago
2004 - Antawn Jamison, Dallas
2003 - Bobby Jackson, Sacramento
2002 - Corliss Williamson, Detroit
2001 - Aaron McKie, Philadelphia
2000 - Rodney Rogers, Phoenix
1999 - Darrell Armstrong, Orlando
1998 - Danny Manning, Phoenix
1997 - John Starks, New York
1996 - Toni Kukoc, Chicago
1995 - Anthony Mason, New York
1994 - Dell Curry, Charlotte
1993 - Clifford Robinson, Portland
1992 - Detlef Schrempf, Indiana
1991 - Detlef Schrempf, Indiana
1990 - Ricky Pierce, Milwaukee
1989 - Eddie Johnson, Phoenix
1988 - Roy Tarpley, Dallas
1987 - Ricky Pierce, Milwaukee
1986 - Bill Walton, Boston
1985 - Kevin McHale, Boston
1984 - Kevin McHale, Boston
1983 - Bobby Jones, Philadelphia
NBA Most Improved Player Winners
2019 - Pascal Siakam, Toronto
2018 - Victor Oladipo, Indiana
2017 - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee
2016 - CJ McCollum, Portland
2015 - Jimmy Butler, Chicago
2014 - Goran Dragic, Phoenix
2013 - Paul George, Indiana
2012 - Ryan Anderson, Orlando
2011 - Kevin Love, Minnesota
2010 - Aaron Brooks, Houston
2009 - Danny Granger, Indiana
2008 - Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando
2007 - Monta Ellis, Golden State
2006 - Boris Diaw, Phoenix
2005 - Bobby Simmons, L.A. Clippers
2004 - Zach Randolph, Portland
2003 - Gilbert Arenas, Golden State
2002 - Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana
2001 - Tracy McGrady, Orlando
2000 - Jalen Rose, Indiana
1999 - Darrell Armstrong, Orlando
1998 - Alan Henderson, Atlanta
1997 - Isaac Austin, Miami
1996 - Gheorghe Muresan, Washington
1995 - Dana Barros, Philadelphia
1994 - Don MacLean, Washington
1993 - Chris Jackson, Denver
1992 - Pervis Ellison, Washington
1991 - Scott Skiles, Orlando
1990 - Rony Seikaly, Miami
1989 - Kevin Johnson, Phoenix
1988 - Kevin Duckworth, Portland
1987 - Dale Ellis, Seattle
1986 - Alvin Robertson, San Antonio