Steph Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the past two winners of the NBA Finals MVP award. “The Greek Freak” won it in 2021 after several stellar displays against the Phoenix Suns, while Curry grabbed it this year by beating the Boston Celtics.
When the Golden State Warriors point guard was made aware of Antetokounmpo praising him as the best player in the NBA, Curry responded with humility:
“Thank you, Giannis! … I don’t know if it’s gamesmanship to set the table. I always say the same thing when you face the champions, that's part of the nature of the league. We all wanna win the championship and we look at the team that’s the last team standing, who’s playing the best.
“I was thinking the same thing about him last year coming off their run. I appreciate the compliment, it’s not gonna soften me up and get complacent at all. But, I do appreciate the respect of your peers to go out and say something like that.”
Both players won the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Trophy for the first time in their respective careers after facing a ton of doubts.
Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award despite not having the most aesthetically-pleasing game, an inconsistent jumper and erratic free-throw shooting. He silenced his doubters, though, by carving up the Phoenix Suns for 50 points in Game 6 to close out the series.
Meanwhile, Steph Curry shook off criticism that suggested he was not an all-time great unless he was recognized as the best player in the finals. He brought his best to the fore in the series against the Boston Celtics’ top-ranked defense.
Steph Curry’s signature moment came in Game 4 with the Golden State Warriors in danger of going 3-1 down to the Eastern Conference champs. The two-time MVP dropped 43 points on the Celtics to go with 10 rebounds to help the Warriors tie the series.
In a game where Draymond Green looked lost and Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson hardly found consistency, Curry came through.
Giannis Antetokounmpo recognized his all-time great performance and gave him all the respect that he could give:
“I think the best player in the world is the person that is the last one standing. It’s the person that takes his team to the final, to the finish line and helps them win the game, win games and become the champion.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry could meet in the NBA Finals
The Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors are consistently among the top three teams favored by oddsmakers to win the 2023 NBA championship.
Golden State’s chemistry, experience and the emergence of their young players will be hard to beat in the West. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remain as good as ever and they’re still not done silencing their doubters wrong.
Unlike previous years, nobody’s counting out the Bay Area team next season.
The Milwaukee Bucks, without Khris Middleton, dragged the Boston Celtics to a hard-fought Game 7 before eventually losing. Giannis Antetokounmpo had another spectacular series despite Boston throwing the kitchen sink at him.
Several basketball analysts have remarked that had the Bucks been complete, they could have been the champions yet again.
Milwaukee has retooled with key additions and are hoping to be more fortunate with health when it matters most. The Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets have on and off-the-court issues to answer, arguably making the Bucks the team to beat in the East.
The 2023 NBA Finals could see the meeting between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry on basketball’s biggest and most glamorous stage.