When and how the Milwaukee Bucks have won the NBA title
The Bucks have won two titles in their entire franchise history: one in 1971 and one in 2021. Both of these Milwaukee Bucks champs were iconic in their own era.
Milwaukee Bucks champs
Compared to Los Angeles and New York, Milwaukee isn’t a big market team. Despite this, they still brought two championships to their franchise due to how great their organization is. They made the right moves and formed championship-caliber rosters in both of these eras.
Let’s take a look at two of the Bucks championship rosters…
How they were built
The Bucks were founded in 1968 as part of the NBA‘s expansion efforts. Like most new expansion teams, they struggled in their inaugural season and just won a total of 27 games. This resulted in them getting the first overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft, with which they selected Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Abdul-Jabbar helped the Bucks improve their win total by 29 games. In their second season, Milwaukee finished with the second-best record in the NBA (56-26). They also reached the Eastern Conference Finals but ultimately lost to the New York Knicks.
With how the Bucks were quickly evolving, they needed to get more talent to make a push for the NBA Finals. In the following offseason, they decided to trade for one of the best point guards in the league at that time in Oscar Robertson. Now with the Big O, the Bucks were already looking like a championship contenders.
1970-71 regular season
In the 1970–71 regular season, they took another leap and finished with the best record in the NBA (66–16). Robertson averaged 19.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game on 49% shooting.
Meanwhile, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 31.7 points and 16.0 rebounds per game on 57% shooting. It was just his second season at the time, but he was already one of the best centers in the league. After putting up monstrous stats and leading the Bucks to the top, he was named the league MVP.
Jon McGlocklin was also a huge part of this team’s offense and averaged nearly 16 points per game.
1971 NBA playoffs
They steamrolled every team they faced in the 1971 NBA playoffs. In the first round, they made quick work against the San Francisco Warriors and won the series 4-1. They also won in a dominant fashion against the Los Angeles Lakers, beating them 4-1.
1971 NBA Finals
In the 1971 NBA Finals, they swept the Baltimore Bullets in four games to win the title. Abdul-Jabbar was unstoppable in the series and averaged 27 points and 18.5 rebounds per game, winning him the Finals MVP award. Robertson also had a stellar Finals performance and averaged 23.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game.
The Bucks winning the NBA championship in just their third season is an all-time record for the quickest expansion team to win a title in the four major North American professional team sports. This is why this Bucks championship roster is so memorable.
How they were built
50 years later, Milwaukee won another championship to end the franchise’s half-decade title drought. What’s great about this Bucks championship roster is that it was built from scratch, and they developed their own players. They didn’t buy superstars; rather, they made their own.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was selected as the 14th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. No one expected him to become the superstar that he is today on that night, except for the Bucks. They believed in his crazy potential and developed him every season.
They also saw potential in Khris Middleton when they acquired him via trade in 2013. He became an immediate contributor to the team and is the perfect fit next to Antetokounmpo.
2020-21 regular season
In the 2020–21 season, Milwaukee was third in the Eastern Conference, finishing the season with a record of 46–26. Antetokounmpo didn’t win the MVP at this time but still had a monster season and averaged 28.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game on 57% shooting.
Middleton was also stellar, averaging 20.4 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game on 48% shooting. Jrue Holiday was also key to their success due to his defensive and playmaking ability, as he averaged 17.7 points and 6.1 assists per game.
2021 NBA playoffs
Unlike the 1971 Bucks championship, the 2021 championship run was tough. Although, it was easy in the first round as the Bucks swept the Heat in four games. Remember, Miami was a team that reached the NBA Finals a season prior.
Things started to get tougher when they faced the Nets in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Brooklyn had three superstars on their roster: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. The series was pushed to seven games, and Game 7 was a thriller. Ultimately, the Bucks won in overtime.
The Eastern Conference Finals were tricky, too. They faced the Trae Young-led Hawks. The series was pushed to six games, but the Bucks prevailed.
2021 NBA Finals
In the NBA Finals, they faced the scorching Suns team, which was the second-best team in the league at that time. Phoenix won the first two games, but Milwaukee stormed back and won the next four games. Finally, the Milwaukee Bucks were champs once again.
Antetokounmpo had produced one of the best Finals performances, scoring 50 points and 14 rebounds in Game 6. He was crowned the Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game on 60% shooting.
The similarity between the two Milwaukee Bucks champs is how two behemoths carried the franchise to greatness in their own eras. Before, it was Abdul-Jabbar who was unstoppable in the paint. Then, it was Antetokounmpo. There’s no doubt that Antetokounmpo will go down as one of the best power forwards of all time when he retires. In fact, he already is.