Paul showing up in Phoenix and turning the Suns into NBA finalists turned heads around the league — in more ways than one. Teams that feel close enough to contention threw caution to the wind and money at players’ doorsteps.
The 35-year-old six-time All-Star has played his last nine seasons in Toronto, helping to lead the Raptors to the franchise's first championship in 2019.
Detroit GM Troy Weaver: “I struggle with putting a top five together all time without Larry Bird. He had the sharpest mind that I’ve seen. Cunningham, his mind allows him to play faster, see and feel things even if he’s not a superior athlete.”
Antetokounmpo stands nonpareil with no qualifiers, no excuses — whatever breaks the Bucks caught, they earned through sweat equity of the past.
The Bucks have been where the Suns are, playoff neophytes figuring things out as they go along, nearing heartbreak after bouts of prosperity.
It wasn’t a buzzer-beater, and it wasn’t the final difference in the 109-103 series-tying Game 4 win for the Bucks. But it was the defining play for Antetokounmpo — for this series and perhaps for his career.
Complaining about favorable treatment from the referees is a form of gamesmanship that is part of the fabric of the NBA playoffs.
Slowly, Giannis is joining the pantheon and shedding labels that belonged to him and his team for the last couple years, regardless of this series' result.