MILWAUKEE — Christian Yelich first met Giannis Antetokounmpo last month in downtown Milwaukee.The encounter happened inside a hallway at Fiserv Forum after Antetokounmpo and the Bucks eliminated the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Obviously, I’m happy to be one of the three finalists
The meeting of the Milwaukee stars occurred about six months after Yelich won the 2018 National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
Now, Antetokounmpo could bring another MVP trophy to the city situated on Lake Michigan’s western shore.
The Bucks forward is a finalist for NBA MVP along with Oklahoma City swingman Paul George and Houston guard James Harden, who won the award last season.
The winner will be announced Monday night.
“Obviously, I’m happy to be one of the three finalists,” Antetokounmpo said two days after losing to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals.
“Hopefully, I get it. If not, I have many more years to be able to help my teammates be successful and put me in a situation that we can get it.”
Antetokounmpo set career highs by averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists while leading the Bucks to a league-best 60-22 record in the regular season. The 6-foot-11 first-team All-NBA performer is just the second player in league history to average at least 27 points, 12 rebounds and 5.5 assists, joining Oscar Robertson during the 1961-62 campaign.
The 24-year-old native of Athens would be only the fifth international NBA MVP, joining Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Yelich won the NL MVP award in near-unanimous fashion in November after becoming the first Brewers player to win a batting title. He finished two home runs and an RBI shy of the NL’s first Triple Crown since the St. Louis Cardinals’ Joe Medwick in 1937.
The native of Thousand Oaks, California garnered 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to win in a landslide over Javier Báez of the Chicago Cubs and third-place finisher Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies.
The other first-place vote went to New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, who finished fifth in the MVP balloting a day after winning the NL Cy Young Award.
Yelich called his MVP victory “mind-boggling” and told The Associated Press he’s rooting for Antetokounmpo to bring the NBA’s top individual honor back to Milwaukee.