From an unknown gym in Athens, to the NBA, there was a leap for Giannis Antetokounbo. A name that was given to David Stern, the former President of the league, some rehearsal before he pronounced it correctly. His story from rags to riches is incredible and almost mythical.
ESPN found the Greek Freak story interesting enough to launch a movie for details “The biggest plan of any story”. In fact, it is quite worrying that 14 franchises passed and did not sign a future 2-time NBA MVP (before becoming 26). It was probably the biggest attachment failure ever.
The Giannis Antetokounmpo story
The Greek Freak came from a humble beginning, where he and his brothers had to sell door-to-door products to help their mother. Basketball was his only escape from a life of mediocrity, if not poverty. With the NBA dreams in his eyes, John remained off the radar until he was 18 years old.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “At the end of June when he was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, seven and a half months earlier, there was no NBA team that had ever heard of him. It went from being completely off the world map, suddenly to the brink of the NBA lottery, and the process that began these months was just one of the most unique, mysterious, enigmatic.
Milwaukee Bucks was one of the first franchises to understand and recognize the talent and work ethic of a young John. Former Bucks GM John Hammond, “I remember the day very clearly because Jeff Wolman was working with me in Milwaukee at the time. I remember Jeff saying, “Hi John, there’s a young player in Athens who has a lot of potential right now. We should probably see him.”
Apparently he caused a stir and left his mark on the few scouts who knew him. The 7’3 φ wingspan combined with large arms and great storage capacity at a young age can be impressive for everyone.
The success of the controversial NBA Draft 2013
As soon as the Greek Freak was discovered, the franchise, knowing its potential, wanted to keep it a secret. The Atlanta Hawks (who later took on Dennis Schroder and Shane Larkin) were one of them. They had the options # 17 and # 18 in their name. If not for the Bucks, John was an Atlanta boy. But the Bucks knew his ceiling was too high to ignore. Recalls an NBA agent, I got a call, and they called me and said, ‘We have the next Magic Johnson.’
Even today, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, believes that it was a mistake not to choose Giannis in # 13. This whole plan was disastrous. Only two players, Victor Oladipo (ORL) and CJ McCollum (POR) could reach a level that did some justice in their choices. But leaving a prospective player for a 15th pick is simply unthinkable.
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