Austin Ainge Shares Why Celtics Passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Getty Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks look to repeat as champs in 2022.

When most Boston Celtics fans look back at the 2013 NBA Draft, two words in the form of a question almost always come to mind: What if?

What if things played out differently and the Celtics didn’t draft the 7-footer from Gonzaga? If, instead of Kelly Olynyk, with the 13th overall pick Boston selected superstar and 2021 NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokunmpo.

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Things would (obviously) be vastly different for the Celtics. Watching the Milwaukee Bucks capture their first championship in 50 years was another reminder of what could have been.

It’s a special time for the Bucks, especially for Antetokounmpo, who now adds a title to his impressive resume filled with five All-Star selections, back-to-back MVP awards (2019, 2020), and 3 All-Defensive First Team honors, including the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year award.

And, he did it all before his 27th birthday. So, yes. For Celtics fans, witnessing The Greek Freak reach the mountain top, this week, rubbed salt into their proverbial wounds as they wait and see for what’s to come after Boston’s first-round exit against Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and the Brooklyn Nets.

Austin Ainge: ‘If We Had Known Giannis Would Grow, This Would be a Different Story’

The Ringer’s Mirin Fader, who is the author of a new unreleased book on Antetokunmpo entitled, “Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP,” provided a juicy tidbit about the Celtics and why they ultimately decided to draft Olynyk after initially recruiting Giannis.

Fader, who joined The A-List Podcast hosts A Sherrod Blakely and Kwani A Lunis, shared what Celtics scout and son of the then-president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, Austin Ainge had to say.

“One of my favorite interviews was actually learning about the Celtics’ interest in Giannis and traveling to Greece,” Fader said, per CLNS Media’s A-List Podcast. “Austin Ainge told me, ‘Look, if we had known Giannis would grow like two inches once he got to the NBA, obviously, this would be a different story. He would not have fallen where he had fallen to (in the draft).'”

Danny Ainge Recruits ‘The Greek Freak’ in Greece

Fader even had a story about Danny, who also made a trip to Greece to check out the popular prospect, who was ready to make a name for himself in the U.S.

“Learning about the time Danny Ainge came to Greece and he came to a road game in a place called Volos,” Fader said, per the A-List Podcast. “The fans were heckling him. They don’t know who he is at first. They think Danny Ainge is an opposing Greek GM. Then, they find out he’s Danny Ainge, and then they start screaming insults and curses. And then, they start screaming ‘Lakers,’ and then he realizes they’re making fun of him because they realize he’s Danny Ainge.”

“Giannis: The Improbably Rise of an NBA MVP” will be available for sale on August 10.