A global game: International players dominate NBA Awards 2019
MANILA, Philippines – The Toronto Raptors becoming the first team outside the United States to win an NBA title was just the start of it all.
International players were the biggest winners in the 2019 NBA Awards as 4 players born outside the US took home major honors on Monday, June 24 (Tuesday, June 25, Manila time).
The Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, born in Greece to Nigerian immigrants, bagged the highest individual award as he was crowned the Most Valuable Player for the first time in his career.
The Milwaukee Bucks forward received 78 first-place votes to unseat 2018 MVP James Harden of the Houston Rockets and to best Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Luka Doncic of Slovenia, meanwhile, stamped his class as one of the NBA's rising stars as he captured the Rookie of the Year plum against the Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young and the Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton.
The Dallas Mavericks guard dominated the race, receiving all but two of the first-place votes as he joined Jason Kidd as the only players from the franchise to win the award.
Also from Europe, Rudy Gobert of France made his mark on the less glamorous end of the basketball floor after seizing his second straight Defensive Player of the Year citation.
Averaging more than two blocks for the fifth straight season, the towering Utah Jazz center beat out Antetokounmpo and George.
Pascal Siakam of Cameroon put the finishing touches in his best NBA season to date by earning the Most Improved Player award.
An integral part of the Raptors' championship triumph, Siakam took a major leap from his performance in his first two seasons to overcome the Brooklyn Nets' D'Angelo Russell and the Sacramento Kings' De'Aaron Fox.
Aside from Antetokounmpo, Mike Budenholzer and Jon Horst delivered victories for the Bucks as the new Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year, respectively.
Los Angeles Clippers star Lou Williams, meanwhile, claimed a piece of history as he tied Jamal Crawford for most Sixth Man of the Year awards with 3.
Other winners were the Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley, who won Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year and the Sportsmanship Award, and Marcus Smart, who won the Hustle Award.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird shared the Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin Roberts won the Sager Strong Award, while the Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal won the Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award.
Fans were also given a voice in the annual awards as they voted the Minnesota Timberwolves' Derrick Rose for House of Highlights Moment of the Year when he scored a career-high 50 points against the Jazz on October 31.