LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo figured somebody was in trouble.
Even though the Milwaukee Bucks had just defeated Orlando for a 3-1 lead in their playoff series, Mike Budenholzer wanted to talk to them in the locker room afterward.
Antetokounmpo looked around, wondering if a teammate was about to be scolded.
“Usually when coach wants to talk to us after a game, somebody messed up,” Antetokounmpo said.
This time, it was because the Greek Freak did really well.
Antetokounmpo was voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, becoming the fifth player to win that award and MVP in a career.
The All-Star, who was MVP last year and is the favourite to repeat this season, ended the two-year reign of Utah centre Rudy Gobert as Defensive Player of the Year.
He got the news with the rest of his teammates on the league’s best defensive team a day earlier.
“Coach was so excited, he was so happy,” Antetokounmpo said. “He told me I won Defensive Player of the Year. He jumped on the table.”
Antetokounmpo received 75 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters, finishing with 432 points. Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis was second (200 points; 14 first-place votes) and Gobert (187 points; six first-place votes) third.
Antetokounmpo joined Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Kevin Garnett as players to do the MVP-Defensive Player of the Year double.
He was runner-up for the defensive award last year. He led the Bucks to the NBA’s best record and helped them limit opponents to 101.6 points per 100 possessions, the league’s top defensive rating, as of March 11.
“His commitment to defence, his commitment to winning, his commitment to doing everything is beyond incredible,” Budenholzer said.
“His impact on the game with blocked shots and rebounds, guarding all five positions, chasing down blocks, close-outs, communicating. He does everything defensively — literally everything. This award is representative of that.”