Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer certainly aims high as he unveiled plans for a new facility for the NBA team.

The former CEO of Microsoft and majority owner of the Clippers unveiled plans for a new multi-billion dollar, state-of-the-art facility, one day after the team officially announced the acquisitions of All-NBA players Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

While Leonard was briefed on the possibility of a new arena – which Ballmer said will be entirely privately funded – it was not something meant to convince the 2019 Finals MVP to choose the Clippers.

For Ballmer, it was more about showing the All-Star that he is committed to improving the franchise.

"I want it to be beautiful," Ballmer told ESPN. "But I want it to be about basketball. I want it to be comfortable. But I want it to be about basketball."

He continued: "Being in LA, the free-agency thing will always be a little more important to us. That means we've got to invest in the player's experience."

The building does face opposition from Madison Square Garden, which owns The Forum, which sits less than a mile away from the proposed site for the new arena in Inglewood, California.

The litigation surrounding the proposition could take a while to figure out, but Ballmer sounds confident the plans will come to fruition.

"This is really going to happen," Ballmer said he told Leonard. "Obviously we have to go through the process... the lawsuits that Madison Square Garden has brought, but we are feeling confident that we can build our stadium in Inglewood."

Ballmer wants the building to hearken back to college basketball, with large sections devoted to rows and rows of stands completely absent of suites and boxes.

He wants to have a portion of the seats behind one basket from the floor to the top row dedicated to fans, and above all else – noise.

"I want it to be a noisy building," Ballmer said of the section he dubbed 'The Wall of Sound'. "I really want that kind of energy; think Oracle [Arena] has been that way, Utah, Portland has got good energy.

"I think our Clipper fan base is a little more tenacious. They're people [who have] decided they're sticking with us, and now I think we will get new kinds of fans with Paul and Kawhi joining us but I think it is a hardcore fan base. I think that we can get real noise, real energy in the building."

Ballmer said he was aiming for the stadium to be ready by 2024. Leonard and George might not ever play there, as both could be free agents after the 2021-22 season.

But Ballmer was clear, while this was something to show off to the team's new star players, this is about more than them.

"I don't want to say it was a major milestone in the meeting but we did share because it is another statement that we are really committed," Ballmer said. "I don't know how it's humanly possible but I still occasionally get a question about it; will your team move to Seattle? We are building our billion-dollar-plus house here in Inglewood, California."

Kawhi Leonard said he was "very close" to signing for either the Los Angeles Lakers or Toronto Raptors before joining the Los Angeles Clippers.

Leonard swapped Toronto for the Clippers via free agency after leading the Raptors to their first NBA championship in 2018-19.

A return to the Raptors or a move to the Lakers to team up with LeBron James had been mooted for Leonard, who eventually opted for the Clippers after they acquired Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Asked how close he was to joining either the Raptors or the Lakers, Leonard told ESPN: "I was very close. Real close.

"When [the Clippers] presented the opportunity of playing with Paul [George], it was easy, it was a yes. I said let's get it going."

Leonard entered free agency coming off one of the best postseason runs ever with the Raptors.

He averaged 30.5 points in the playoffs, was named the Finals MVP and helped the team avoid elimination by knocking down a crazy bouncing buzzer-beater against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

All-Star Leonard said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers played a role in his decision to join the franchise.

"I grew up a Clippers fan," Leonard said during his introductory news conference on Wednesday. "I loved the Clippers as a kid. With Doc [Rivers] being a championship head coach, that is something I wanted, an experienced coach. And the front office is very transparent with me. They want to win. It's an opportunity for us to build our own [thing] and make history."

George, meanwhile, reportedly asked Oklahoma City to move him to the Clippers, who ended up landing him in exchange for guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forward Danilo Gallinari, five future first-round selections and two pick swaps.

"This [wasn't something] that came out of the blue," George told ESPN. "We were all on the same page. The initial plan was to give it another year, see what we could do, and I did that. We played another year and it felt like we were just stagnant. Next thing was, let's move forward with other plans.

"Again, it was mutual amongst everybody. [The] Thunder got amazing packages out of it ... And we all thought it was a win across the board, we all thought it was the best moment to pull the plug."

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer brought plenty of noise and enthusiasm as he welcomed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the NBA franchise.

NBA Finals MVP Leonard and fellow star George were introduced as Clippers players on Wednesday, following their arrivals from the Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder respectively.

It was a landmark day for the Clippers, but a hyped and loud Ballmer stole the show as he went crazy with excitement.

"I have these notes, but I've gotta say, I'm just fired up to be here today," Ballmer started off by saying in his news conference.

"It's pretty cool. It's pretty damn cool!... WOOOO!"

Ballmer – gesturing to reporters and fans – added: "I'm pumped to say hello as Clippers to Paul and Kawhi… COME ON, GET UP! COME ON AND GET UP IF YOU'RE AS PSYCHED AS I AM!... YEAH!"

The Clippers earned plenty of admirers last season after reaching the playoffs with a 48-34 record before falling to the Golden State Warriors in the first round.

Los Angeles are yet to win a championship and Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said: "This is a great moment, but it's not our finest moment. That's coming. We're here to celebrate. This feels like a movement. Today is more about what's coming."

Leonard knows what championships are made of. He has two rings to go with two Finals MVPs.

"For me, Doc's a championship coach and that's something that I wanted," Leonard said. "The front office was transparent with me. It's an opportunity for us to build our own. We have a chance to do something special."

But, of course, Leonard had to put his own spin on the perspective around a title potentially going to the Clippers and not the Los Angeles Lakers.

"If we go to the championship and win and we get no coverage, that's fine with me," he said.

Leonard chose the Clippers and did not say goodbye to the Raptors. It felt weird, but it turns out it was just Kawhi.

"I want to think the Toronto Raptors fans. I don't have social media so I'm not able to put a paragraph out or whatever," he said. "Thanks all of Toronto, the city, the country. It was a great, amazing season. It was the best parade ever."

He continued: "Thanks to the doctors for delivering my baby boy. I also just want to thank the city as far as the restaurants. They had 'Kawhine and Dine' throughout the playoffs. I took advantage of that."

George will link up with Leonard, who was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 2011 before being sent to the San Antonio Spurs in a trade.

"I remember I was in Indy when we drafted Kawhi," former Pacers star George said. "I was a little confused by it because I was the two-guard and Kawhi was the same position and I was a bit nervous for the competition that was coming.

"But fast forward, knowing that the player I am and the player he developed into, I wish we would have kept that pick and we could have [grown] together ... It seems like this was destiny that we were supposed to play together."

The Oklahoma City Thunder will be making a lot of first-round picks over the coming years after trading away Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

OKC completed their third major recent trade when they sent Westbrook to the Houston Rockets on Thursday in exchange for two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul, according to a report from ESPN.

Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder sent away this offseason. They moved George, who finished third in the MVP voting in 2018-19, to the Los Angeles Clippers and received five first-round selections, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.

The Thunder then sent forward Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets for another first-round pick.

In total, Oklahoma City have added eight first-round picks this offseason and hold 15 over the next seven drafts.
 

Here's a complete list of the Thunder's first-round picks from 2020 to 2026.

2020: Own (1-20), Nuggets (1-10)

2021: Own, Miami Heat (swap rights with the Houston Rockets)

2022: Own (1-14), Clippers

2023: Own (swap rights with the Clippers), Heat (1-14)

2024: Own, Clippers, Rockets (1-4)

2025: Own (swap rights with the Clippers, Rockets)

2026: Own, Clippers, Rockets (1-4)

The Oklahoma City Thunder roster underwent a complete overhaul in less than a week.

Oklahoma City completed their third major trade when they sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul, according to the ESPN on Thursday.

Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder dealt away this offseason. They moved Paul George — who finished third in the MVP voting in 2018-19 — to the Los Angeles Clippers and received five first-round selections, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.

The Thunder then sent forward Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets for another first-round pick.

In the blink of an eye, the Thunder went from a team that seemed to have championship aspirations to a franchise entering a rebuild. Oklahoma City finished with a 49-33 record last season, had two stars on their roster long term and some solid surrounding talent around them, including Grant, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder.

George, however, forced the Thunder's hand after he reportedly asked to be dealt in hopes of teaming up with Kawhi Leonard and the pair ended up together in Los Angeles.

After that trade, the Thunder needed to move in a different direction and they did quite well for themselves.

Oklahoma City acquired eight first-round picks over the last week and they should have the opportunity to draft plenty of young, controllable players to replenish their rotation. The team could also elect to package some of those picks in a deal for a different star, should one become available.

But, that is not all the Thunder added. Gilgeous-Alexander is a promising guard with plenty of upside. He could develop into a more than adequate replacement for Westbrook, with a much better contract.

Gallinari is a reliable three-and-D player on an expiring deal. If the Thunder elect to hold onto him, he will be a consistent contributor. If not, there is a good chance they can flip him for another pick or young player.

Paul, meanwhile, is a nine-time All-Star who still provides value as a scorer and distributor, despite the massive amount of money remaining on his contract (three years, $124.1million). He could still receive interest on the trade market and Oklahoma City could acquire additional assets if they decide to move him again.

Despite losing some of the league's biggest names, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has set his team up to be competitive in the future.

There is never a dull day in the NBA, but this past weekend may have been the craziest moment in league history.

We will get to that in a second, but we will also touch on the Home Run Derby and the Houston Texans who are looking like a train wreck once again.

All that and more on this week in US Sports.

 

1. Clippers eclipse Lakers

This was as crazy of an NBA offseason as there has ever been. An MVP candidate (Anthony Davis) was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, two stars signed with the Brooklyn Nets (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving), the Boston Celtics reloaded with an All-NBA guard (Kemba Walker) and the New York Knicks are the Knicks.

But all of that news paled in comparison to what happened in the wee hours of Saturday morning when news broke the Los Angeles Clippers were going to get both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. While the Leonard news broke first, what we came to find out was Leonard had convinced George to accept a trade to Los Angeles from the Oklahoma City Thunder. So, while he signed seemingly on his own with the Clippers, what actually went down was the George trade was agreed to which sealed Leonard's move to Los Angeles.

Now the Clippers and Lakers have even odds to win the NBA Finals next year, but the Clippers have much of the momentum and possibly the best defensive tandem in the NBA in George, Leonard and Patrick Beverley. The Western Conference is going to be fun next year.

 

2. Home Run Derby for the ages

For years the Home Run Derby has been stale. A few years ago, the MLB was forced to change the format from 10 outs to a timed round in which players could hit as many pitches as they want rather than being selective and taking pitch after pitch. Some rounds would seem to creep into the 30-minute range and fans were losing interest.

Absolutely no interest was lost on Monday though in a Home Run Derby for the ages. This derby featured a man (Joc Pederson) who hit 39 home runs in a round and lost (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit 40) and an event where a rookie bashed 91 balls over the fence and did not win (Guerrero).

There were 321 total homers in the event and the final between two rookies (Guerrero and Alonso) took three overtimes to decide. The Home Run Derby was not boring this year, it was what a Derby was always supposed to be.

 

3. Drama in Houston

The Houston Texans have been one of the better organisations in the NFL over the last several years as they have made the playoffs three of the last four seasons while winning their division five times since 2011. But all that success seems to be in spite of themselves and this offseason is a perfect example as to why.

Houston selected Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick in 2014. He has 29 sacks and 67 quarterback hits in his career and has been named to three Pro Bowls while missing a total of six games over the last four years. And yet, the Texans do not want to sign him to a long-term deal. In fact, they likely will not be signing him to a long-term deal at all this offseason, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle.

Even more damning may be the team's ineptitude in the front office. General manager Rick Smith left last year to take care of his sick wife, but it was reported he did so because of a rift with Bill O'Brien. Then the man hired to replace Smith was fired after one year with the team, but after the Draft. Finally, the team decided on Thursday they were not going to hire a replacement GM and will run the team as a committee next season. The Texans are lucky to be in one of the worst divisions in the NFL, otherwise they may be getting more flak for their actions.

 

4. Chad Mendes retires

A former WEC title contender has retired. Chad Mendes, who accumulated an 18-5 record and had Conor McGregor beaten and bloodied on short notice, has decided to end his long and illustrious career in the WEC and UFC.

"I just want to say THANK YOU to all my fans and everyone that tuned in to watch me battle!" Mendes wrote on Instagram. "With 29 years of competing and 11 year in the Mma game, I feel it's time for the next chapter in my life! It's been an incredible journey with so many life lesson along the way. I feel extremely blessed to be living this life I live and can't wait to see what the next chapter has in store for me!"

 

5. Astros' Marisnick suspended two games

Houston Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick has been suspended for two games after running over Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy in a game on Sunday, MLB announced on Thursday.

Lucroy sustained a concussion and broken nose on the play and manager Brad Ausmus called for Marisnick's suspension after the game as did St Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

Kawhi Leonard has officially joined the Los Angeles Clippers, but has reportedly made a surprising decision regarding his contract.

The three-time All-Star is rumoured to have signed a three-year, $103million deal with a player option in 2021-22, rather than the four-year, $141m contract he initially was expected to sign.

Such an agreement would allow Leonard to become an unrestricted free agent alongside his co-star Paul George – whose arrival from the Oklahoma City Thunder was also ratified on Wednesday – in two seasons, which puts pressure on the Clippers to be successful.

Leonard, the 2019 NBA Finals MVP, declined his player option with the Toronto Raptors after their championship run and elected to return to his home state of California. 

The ruptured Achilles Kevin Durant suffered in Game 5 of this year's title series made Leonard the most sought-after free agent on the market. He made things interesting by orchestrating a blockbuster deal.

The Clippers, at Leonard's request, sent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a staggering five future first-round picks to the Thunder for George, making them the favourites to win the championship in 2020.

They went from an eighth seed in the Western Conference to a powerhouse with two All-NBA talents and a strong supporting cast featuring Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.

The Clippers have come back stronger than ever after a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, but their window to win it all could be smaller than what many thought it would be.

Paul George farewelled the Oklahoma City Thunder after moving to the Los Angeles Clippers to team up with NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

In-demand free agent Leonard left NBA champions the Toronto Raptors for the Clippers in a blockbuster deal after the Los Angeles franchise agreed a trade with the Thunder.

The Clippers sent five draft picks, plus Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in exchange for six-time All-Star and 2018-19 MVP finalist George.

Ahead of his move to Western Conference rivals the Clippers, George – who left the Indiana Pacers for Oklahoma City in 2017 – thanked the Thunder.

"Thank you Oklahoma for two great years, you took me in as one of your own from the day I touched down," George wrote via Instagram on Saturday.

"Thank you to the fans who make representing those 3 letters mean something. Thank you to Sam and Clay for being the best management a franchise and player could ask for.

"Thank you to the friends within the organisation that took care of my family and I whenever we needed help. The picture shown is a bond that can't be broken I truly loved and enjoyed the race from start to finish. Thank you OKLAHOMA! You already know what it is @russwest44! Love brodie!"

Leonard was heavily recruiting George to join him at the Clippers, even though the latter had signed a four-year deal with the Thunder last offseason. 

The Thunder could have denied George's request and tried to make it work, but they reportedly were concerned it could turn into a situation similar to Anthony Davis' departure from the New Orleans Pelicans – who eventually sent the disgruntled big man to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Oklahoma City finished the regular season in sixth position in the Western Conference with a 49-33 record. The Thunder suffered a disappointing early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers.

George averaged 28 points on 43.8 per cent shooting in 2018-19. He also averaged 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 77 games last season.

Los Angeles is set for a blockbuster NBA rivalry next season after Kawhi Leonard reportedly agree to sign on for the Clippers.

With Paul George also said to be joining from the Oklahoma City Thunder, an exciting Clippers team is set to go head-to-head against a Los Angeles Lakers franchise fronted by NBA icon LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Leonard, who spearheaded the Toronto Raptors to a maiden championship last season, is a signing who can make the Clippers – who finished eighth in the Western Conference in 2018-19 – a real force to be reckoned with.

In July 2018, it was the Lakers making waves when they drafted in superstar James from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There is now some real star power across both Los Angeles teams, and inspired by this, we have taken a look at times when cross-city rivalries sent the sporting world into a frenzy.

 

Manchester City v Manchester United

For a long time, Manchester City lived in Manchester United's shadow, suffering multiple relegations while their rivals won a treble and dominated the domestic game under Alex Ferguson's tutelage. Things changed in 2008, however, when City were bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, owner of the Abu Dhabi United Group, and they have since gone on to become much more than the "noisy neighbours" that Ferguson dubbed them in 2009.

The pendulum did not swing fully in City's favour until the last day of the 2011-12, when they clinched their first Premier League title in the most dramatic of circumstances. Sergio Aguero's last-gasp goal in a 3-2 win against QPR is the thing of folklore, the Argentina striker scoring after Edin Dzeko had already levelled the scores in stoppage time. It denied Ferguson's United, who thought they had the job done having won at Sunderland until news of City's sensational finale filtered through.

United got their revenge the following season, but since Ferguson left, the Red Devils have hardly come close to keeping pace with City.

Rabbitohs v Roosters

The oldest and fiercest rivalry in the NRL is between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters.

Their rivalry escalated in the 1990s when the increased financial standing of the Roosters came in stark contrast to the lack of funds available to the Rabbitohs, who broke a 10-year, 13-game losing streak against their nemesis in 2005.

In the last regular-season rounds of 2013 and 2014, the Roosters came out on top against their rivals to claim the Minor Premiership, though the Rabbitohs won in the preliminary final in the latter campaign to reach their first grand final in 43 years. Four years later, the Roosters defeated Souths 12-4 in the preliminary final at Allianz Stadium, in front of a record crowd.

Mets v Yankees 

In 2000, the New York Mets and New York Yankees met in the Major League Baseball World Series - the first time two teams from the Big Apple had met in the showpiece since 1956.

Referred to as the "Subway Series", it was the Yankees who came out on top with a dominant 4-1 series win, despite having lost 15 of their last 18 regular season games.

It was a third successive World Series triumph for the Yankees, who also made it to the same stage in 2001, but lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The rivals have not met in a World Series since, and it took the Mets another 15 years to make it back to the big stage.

UCLA v USC

One of the biggest college football rivalries comes in the form of the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans.

The most famous encounter between the two universities came in 1967, in a match known as "the game of the century." It matched USC - with OJ Simpson - against a UCLA side including Gary Beban, with the Conference Championship on the line, while Simpson and Beban were competing for the Heisman Trophy.

It was USC who ran out victorious in a 21-20 victory and they went on to defeat Indiana in the Rose Bowl and win the National Championship. Beban claimed the Heisman Trophy, despite Simpson's notable performance in the encounter and 1,543 rushing yards over the season.

Boca Juniors v River Plate

One of the most famous and fierce local rivalries in football, or indeed any sport, the Superclasico is an incredible Buenos Aires derby between Argentina's two biggest clubs - Boca Juniors and River Plate.

In 2018, both sides progressed to the final of the Copa Libertadores, making it the first Superclasico final of an international competition. It was a two-legged encounter with one match to be played at each ground.

Tensions were high, and after a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Boca's home Estadio Alberto J. Armando, they boiled over in dramatic and violent fashion prior to the second leg at El Monumental, with the match eventually called off after the Boca coach was attacked en route to the stadium.

After much controversy, the second leg finally took place at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, with River winning 3-1 to secure a 5-2 aggregate victory and their fourth Copa Libertadores title.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and his MVP success headlined the NBA awards.

Antetokounmpo capped a stellar season to be crowned the league's most valuable player.

The 24-year-old averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season. He shot 57.8 per cent from the field and added 1.5 blocks per game.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was named the Rookie of the Year, while Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam secured Most Improved Player.

Here is a complete list of the 2019 NBA award finalists and winners:

 

Most Valuable Player

Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

Other finalists: Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder), James Harden (Houston Rockets)

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Other finalists: Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)

Coach of the Year

Winner: Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks)

Other finalists: Michael Malone (Denver Nuggets), Doc Rivers (Los Angeles Clippers)

Sixth Man Award

Winner: Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers)

Other finalists: Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers) 

Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)

Other finalists: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Most Improved Player

Winner: Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)

Other finalists: De'Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings), D'Angelo Russell (Brooklyn Nets)

NBA Cares Community Assist Award

Winner: Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)

Other finalists: Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn Nets) Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies), Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers), LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)

Twyman-Stokes Team-mate of the Year Award

Winner: Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)

Other finalists: Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder), Jared Dudley (Brooklyn Nets), Channing Frye (Cleveland Cavaliers), Rudy Gay (San Antonio Spurs), Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat), Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors), Kyle Korver (Utah Jazz), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), JJ Redick (Philadelphia 76ers), Garrett Temple (Los Angeles Clippers), Thaddeus Young (Indiana Pacers)

Sportsmanship Award

Winner: Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)

Other finalists: Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder), Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings), Al Horford (Boston Celtics), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winners: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson

Sager Strong Award

Winner: Robin Roberts

Hustle Award

Winner: Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)

Moment of the Year

Winner: Derrick Rose's 50-point game against the Utah Jazz.

Executive of the Year

Winner: Jon Horst (Milwaukee Bucks)

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the 2018-19 NBA Most Valuable Player.

Antetokounmpo took home his first MVP during Monday's ceremony at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles.

After a run to the Eastern Conference Finals in his sixth campaign with the Bucks, Antetokounmpo beat last season's MVP James Harden and Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George to the honour.

The 24-year-old Greek sensation became the youngest MVP since Derrick Rose in 2010-11 and first Bucks player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973-74 to win the award.

Antetokounmpo made a strong case for himself when he helped Milwaukee to the NBA's best record at 60-22.

His efforts — 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game — were enough to beat out Houston Rockets star Harden for the hardware.

Harden, who has now been an MVP runner up three times in his career, averaged a league-high 36.1 points per game for the second-most in one season in modern NBA history — behind only Michael Jordan, who averaged 37.1 in 1986-87.

The Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs when they fell to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"We'll be back stronger and better," Antetokounmpo wrote on Instagram after the loss. "Milwaukee thank you for supporting my teammates and I this entire season we couldn't have done it without you all!"

Antetokounmpo was unanimously selected to the All-NBA and All-Defensive first team.

 

MVP candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden were both unanimous selections for the All-NBA First Team for 2018-19.

The All-NBA teams were announced by the league on Thursday and the two standout stars of the season, Antetokounmpo and Harden, each received the full 500 points after being named on all 100 First Team ballots.

Giannis, twice on the Second Team, made the cut for the top side for the first time.

Stephen Curry, whose Golden State Warriors have reached the NBA Finals where they could face Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks, was next on 482 points.

Paul George (433 points) and center Nikola Jokic (411) completed the First Team.

On the Second Team, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving all made the cut.

Meanwhile, LeBron James, who missed the playoffs after moving to the Los Angeles Lakers, fell to the Third Team, alongside Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Rudy Gobert and Kemba Walker.

With the pick, James ties the record for the most All-NBA selections with 15, although he was left out of the First Team for only the fourth time in his 16-year career.

MVP candidate and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named on the NBA All-Defensive First Team on Wednesday.

The selection, made by a global panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters, was announced by the league, with Antetokounmpo joined by team-mate Eric Bledsoe.

Giannis had 193 points – including 94 First Team votes – while Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert received 196 points, the most of any player in the NBA.

Marcus Smart and Paul George, along with Bledsoe, completed the First Team.

Antetokounmpo, Gobert and George are all also finalists for the 2018-19 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Jrue Holiday, Klay Thompson, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard made the Second Team.

Oklahoma City Thunder's Paul George, Houston Rockets star James Harden and Milwaukee Bucks sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo are the finalists for the NBA's MVP award.

The league announced the trio of finalists on Friday, with the winner to be announced at the NBA Awards on June 24.

George averaged 28 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for the Thunder. He also led the league in steals (2.21) and is a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year.

Oklahoma City lost 4-1 to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference first round.

Reigning MVP Harden led the NBA in scoring, averaging 36.1 points per game, which was the highest mark since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points in the 1986-87 season.

Harden also trailed George in steals, finishing with a second-best mark of 2.03, as the Rockets advanced to the Conference semi-finals before going down to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks to the best record in the NBA in 2018-19. Milwaukee finished the season at 60-22 and their Greek superstar averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds on a staggering career-high 57.8 per cent shooting.

He led the Bucks in every major statistical category but blocks and is also a top pick for Defensive Player of the Year. He was one of the most physically imposing players the league has ever seen this season. 

The Bucks lead the second-seeded Toronto Raptors 1-0 in the Eastern Conference finals.

Oklahoma City superstars Russell Westbrook and Paul George underwent offseason surgery, the Thunder announced on Tuesday.

Westbrook had a torn ligament in his finger repaired and also had an "elective" procedure done on his right knee.

George, meanwhile, underwent rotator cuff surgery.

The Thunder had an early exit from this year's NBA playoffs. The number six seed fell to the Portland Trail Blazers in five games in the first round and they have not won a playoff series in the past three seasons.

Westbrook and George are the Thunder's centerpieces, and their health will likely be crucial to the team's success moving forward.

George's four-year, $137million deal has a player option in 2021-2022. Should he decide to stay with Oklahoma City, he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Westbrook's five-year, $205m contract is good through the 2022-2023 season.

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