MILWAUKEE - Paying homage to the champs, a Seattle-based artist has gone viral, recreating the play that shifted the NBA Finals in favor of the Milwaukee Bucks: An alley-oop from Jrue Holiday to Giannis Antetokounmpo at the end of Game 5. Rudy Willingham says it was a labor of love for him.
Willingham and his wife normally take a few weeks to create a stop-motion masterpiece, but when he saw that play and the reaction from fans in the Deer District, he knew they had to turn it around before Game 6. Three all-nighters later, his video has forged a connection across the world.
Every NBA Finals has its moment. For the Bucks, it happened in Game 5. The Phoenix Suns had the chance to win late, but Holiday stole the ball, finishing the play with an alley-oop to Giannis Antetokounmpo to seal the game. It sent Bucks fans into a frenzy and put Willingham to work.
"It was such a crazy turn of events that, you know, I jumped out of my seat and like, immediately knew that this was gonna be an iconic play in NBA history," said Willingham.
Over the next 72 hours, Willingham and his wife worked to immortalize the "Valley-Oop" through art, breaking the video down frame by frame, printing it into pictures and finding backdrops.
"Sometimes, I'd be up till 3, 4 in the morning," said Willingham. "Sometimes, she'd be up."
The result is a stop-motion masterpiece. It's since been viewed nearly a million times across various social media.
"As an artist, you just want to create things that connect with people, and when it happens, it's like, the best thing in the world that you made something that made all these people happy," said Willingham.
The Willinghams have done this before, commemorating the greats like Michael Jordan, the late Kobe Bryant and more, but this time, even from Seattle, Willingham says it was easy to be inspired by Giannis and the Bucks.
"I know his backstory," said Willingham. "I know how special it is that he stayed in Milwaukee. I knew... I just think it's like, one of the coolest sports stories in the last 10 years."