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Giannis Antetokounmpo praises John Hammond after Bucks’ championship win

The current Magic GM and former Bucks GM drafted Giannis back in 2013

Bucks Draft Picks Presser Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

John Hammond’s fingerprints are all over the Milwaukee Bucks’ NBA championship.

So much so that Giannis Antetokounmpo had high praise for Hammond after the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday to capture their first NBA title in 50 years. It was Hammond, the current Orlando Magic general manager who held the same role for the Bucks from 2008 to 2017, who drafted Giannis with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Back then, Giannis was a lanky unknown out of Greece. Today he is a two-time MVP, five-time NBA All-Star, one-time Defensive Player of the Year and — after his 50-point, 14-rebound, 5-block performance in Game 6 on Tuesday —an NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP.

He became everything Hammond envisioned and more. That’s why Hammond was one of the people Giannis thanked at his postgame presser following what was a historic performance in the Bucks’ championship-clinching victory.

“John Hammond drafted me, believed in me, believed in my family, brought them over here,” Antetokounmpo said. “He made me feel comfortable. He made me feel like I was his son when I was homesick and alone in the hotel.”

After Hammond left the Bucks in 2017 to take the job with the Magic, Giannis dedicated an Instagram post to him...

Giannis isn’t the only All-Star that Hammond brought to Milwaukee. He also orchestrated a 2013 trade that sent Brandon Jennings to Detroit in exchange for Brandon Knight, Viacheslav Kravtsov and Khris Middleton.

So, yes, Hammond’s fingerprints are all over the Bucks’ Larry O’Brien trophy. Hopefully he can also strike gold in Orlando.