Sometimes, however, there are fans and there are fans. The 2021 NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, restarted a long-standing tradition by becoming the first winners to visit the White House since Barack Obama left office. President Joe Biden was determined to focus on his fellow Delaware native, Donte DiVincenzo, but for most observers the star of the team was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was named league MVP, NBA Finals MVP and defensive player of the year after a 4-2 series victory over the Phoenix Suns ended a 50-year championship drought for the Bucks. The Greek forward, however, recognised the importance of the unit.
“It takes more than one person to win 60 games,” Antetokounmpo said. “Every time I walked into the locker room I saw my teammates, they were ready to go, to fight.”
President Biden also praised the Bucks for their activism. In 2020, they refused to play Game Five of their first round match against the Orlando Magic in the wake of the shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, of Jacob Blake.
In football, Argentina had waited almost three decades to win the Copa America. A lack of group harmony partly explained previous failures but under the exuberant Lionel Scaloni there was a new-found stability and it provided the platform for Lionel Messi – often hamstrung by that uncertainty – to flourish. At the age of 34, Messi was joint top-scorer and player of the tournament as Argentina cruised to the final, where they defeated Brazil 1-0 to end 28 years of misery. In Buenos Aires, a 200-feet tall mural depicting the victorious captain adorned the side of a tower block to remind the city of a famous victory.