There were supposedly 17,000 fans inside and 65,000 outside the arena in downtown Milwaukee for Game 6 of the NBA championship series.
Of course, you need to include the other hundreds of thousands of the fans who followed the game on television there and abroad as they were rewarded by a championship after the Bucks overcame a 0-2 deficit at the start of the series, winning the next 4 games.
And a great majority of those wildly celebrating fans were not even born yet when Milwaukee won its first NBA title in 1971 behind then rookie Kareem Abdul Jabbar nee Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson, supported by Bobby Dandridge and Jon McGlocklin.
It was a very long wait for this midwest city, but I believe the next one will not be that long, not with a team anchored on the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokoumnpo, supported by Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and even the low key Brook Lopez.
Giannis averaged around 35 points for the series, but exploded for 50 points in Game 6 on top of his rebounds and blocks, while Middleton, who I was ready to describe as a disappearing act in that game after the first half, came through with the needed clutch shots when his team needed them. Meanwhile, Holiday was chipping in around 17 during the series, though more than that, he played honest defense throughout.
The unassuming Lopez aways had his great moments with his inside game and three-point shots. Together, it is a very good core group to build on for the future.
But you know what struck me most?
I watched the game live on the NBA Channel in the comfort of my home and after the game, the television showed a split screen of two contrasting shots, one of Giannis smiling and walking around, hugging everyone on the court, while the other half showed an obviously dejected Chris Paul, maybe thinking of those missed shots and turnovers he committed in that game. Truth is, the whole team was struggling with its shots in that final quarter.
And I am sure the contrast between the two players does not stop here. While Giannis seems destined to win more titles, being young and in his prime, Chris is 36 years old, and even though he played superbly the whole season to carry the Suns to the finals, I think it is the last time he will reach the finals, unless overnight, the team becomes a super team.
The Suns, though, have nothing to be ashamed of. The team certainly was not among the seeded teams to make it to the finals, more so win the championship.
Unfortunately, it is not how you start, but how you finish.
Now, please allow me to crow a little, before the start of the championship series. I wrote in an earlier piece that if I were a betting man, I would bet on the Bucks, but that my wish was for the Suns to win to reward them for their efforts, particularly Chris.
On another front, I just want to request the para athletes’ groups, who have not touched base with us yet, to do so for their ayuda packs.
We have released already to several groups, athletics, basketball, badminton, sailing, dance sport and triathlon, among others.
And the good news is that the Philippine Racing Commission, through my friend Chairman Reli de Leon and the PHILRACOM Board, has decided to make the Ayuda Sa Atleta a beneficiary of their July 25 stakes race .This will allow us to benefit more regular athletes.
Thank you to all who helped.