For the first time in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors are NBA champions.
The Raptors survived a gutty performance by the Golden State Warriors in Game 6, as the defending champions did not let go off their title without a fight.
The real turning point that ended the Warriors reign was when Klay Thompson left the game with an injury.
Thompson was incredible throughout the night, as he scored at will to keep his team alive in another elimination game.
Unfortunately, Thompson suffered a torn ACL that ended his incredible performance and really any chance the Warriors had at winning their third-straight championship.
Still, Thompson proved his incredible toughness when he delivered maybe the most iconic moment of the game, as he returned to the court to make his free throws.
Without Thompson, the Warriors did all they could to try stay in the game and even had a chance to win it on one final possession.
Golden State got Curry a relatively open look for a three that would have given them the lead, but he could not knock it down.
For the Raptors it took a team effort in Game 6, as it did the whole series, for them to get the win.
Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and Fred VanVleet all scored at least 20 points, to win their third-straight game on the road in the Finals.
Lowry played especially well, getting the Raptors started by scoring their first 11 points, on his way to a historic double-double.
While Lowry was great throughout, it was no surprise who won the NBA Finals MVP, as that honor went to Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebound in the playoffs, as he made his own case for being the best player in the world right now.
One of the craziest aspects of Kawhi’s dominance is the two teams that he beat to win his Finals MVP’s.
First he beat the Miami Heat in 2014, effectively ending their Big Three Era. And while injuries played as big as a role as Kawhi did, he has now put an end to the Warriors dynasty as well.
Masai Ujiri made a big gamble when he traded for Leonard, with no insurances that he would be in Toronto past this season.
Well, it looks like that gamble paid off for an entire country of Raptors fans.
Mike Conley and Bradley Beal Win Noble and Respected Awards
Mike Conley and Bradley Beal are two of the most admired players in the league not just for what they do on the court, but for what they do off the court as well.
Mike Conley received the Sportsmanship and Teammate of the Year Award at the 2019 NBA Awards Show taking home the Sportsmanship Award for the third time in his career (2014, 2016, 2019) and the Teammate of the Year award for the first time.
In Conley’s twelve-year stint with the Memphis Grizzlies, he never once was issued a technical foul and has been known as an all-around great teammate in the locker room and both on and off the court to go along with his tremendous scoring, exceptional passing and lock down defense.
Conley received these awards because he is loved by his teammates and respected by his opponents and those traits will continue to progress as Conley joins the Utah Jazz for the 2019-2020 season.
Bradley Beal received the NBA Cares Community Assist Award at the NBA Awards for his generosity and charitable work in his community.
Beal is the second Wizards player in the last four years to win the honor with John Wall, who presented him the award, taking home the trophy in 2015-2016.
While also having one of his best seasons of his young career averaging 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and being selected to his second All-Star game, Beal made time to give back to his community.
Working with Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington, Beal visited the school in December and gave out two pairs of shoes to each player and coach on the basketball teams.
Over the holiday season, Beal donated game tickets to different community groups and gave toys to the Salvation army.
Beal took part in many other various types of charitable work over the year and continues to be a role model for kids in the community and around the world.
Jon Horst Wins Executive of the Year Award
The Milwaukee Bucks General Manager, Jon Horst, was named NBA Executive of the Year at the NBA Awards. In doing so, Horst became just the second Bucks general manager win the award, joining John Hammond who won in 2010.
The Bucks named Horst the general manager in 2017 making him one of the youngest executives in the NBA.
A year later Horst assembled a team that had best record in the NBA and won prestigious awards for their accomplishments such as MVP (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and Coach of the Year (Mike Budenholzer).
Horst began the season by hiring veteran coach Mike Budenholzer and deciding to not overpay the former number two overall pick, Jabari Parker.
Instead, Horst made moves during the season to acquire key role players such as Brook Lopez, George Hill and Nikola Mirotic, which ultimately improved the team.
The Bucks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001 and in Horst’s two seasons as general manager, the Bucks are 104-60 overall and have made the playoffs in both seasons.
With Horst’s third season as general manager coming up, it will be interesting to see what other moves are made to try and avenge the Bucks loss in the Eastern Conference Finals and reach the NBA Finals for their third time in franchise history.
Mike Budenholzer Wins NBA Coach of the Year Award
For the second time in his career, coach Mike Budenholzer was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year.
He first won the award in 2015, for his tremendous job of leading the Atlanta Hawks to a 60-22 record and a number one seed over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This year, Budenholzer the Milwaukee Bucks, to a 60-22 record and the best record in the NBA for the first time since the 1973-74 season.
Budenholzer received 77 of 100 first place votes while Head Coach of the Denver Nuggets, Michael Malone received 13 of 100 and Head Coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Doc Rivers received 6 of 100
The Milwaukee Bucks were a top five team on offense and defense this season which is a huge change from being ranked 15th on offense and 17th on defense last season.
Even though the Bucks lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors, the Bucks are still considered a favorite to make another title run next season, lead by Budenholzer and the MVP this year, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
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