Michael Jordan Came Within Days of Changing Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Future and Costing the Bucks Their Long-Awaited NBA Championship
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a Greek-American basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was drafted in 2013 by the Bucks with the 15th pick in the draft. On June 20, 2016, he signed a 4 year $100 million contract extension that would have made him one of the highest paid players in NBA history. Michael Jordan had come to Milwaukee within days before Giannis’s contract signing and offered him a 5 year $150 million deal, which would have made Giannis the highest paid player in NBA history. The offer was turned down by Antetokounmpo who said he wanted to stay loyal to his team and city. One day later, Jordan changed his mind and accepted the offer from Milwaukee. They won their first championship that same season after beating LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 games.
Michael Jordan was a hero to Giannis Antetokounmpo. The NBA legend came within days of changing the Bucks’ future and costing them their long-awaited NBA championship. Read more in detail here: giannis antetokounmpo college.
In 2013, fourteen NBA clubs passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo, including Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets (then known as the Bobcats). The Milwaukee Bucks made a good selection at No. 15 and have just won their first league championship in 50 years.
Jordan reappears in the narrative at this point. He didn’t like Antetokounmpo with Charlotte’s fourth-round selection, but would he have taken the Greek Freak at No. 15 in 2013 for Milwaukee?
It’s an intriguing “what if” because of a long-forgotten incident.
In 2006, Michael Jordan purchased the Charlotte Bobcats.
In 2003, Michael Jordan attempted to purchase the Milwaukee Bucks and came close to completing the transaction. If the transaction had gone through, would Giannis Antetokounmpo be working for him today? | Photo credit: Getty Images
After the 2002-03 season with the Washington Wizards, Jordan announced his retirement for the second time. He bought a minority interest in the Charlotte Bobcats, an expansion club formed when the Charlotte Hornets relocated to New Orleans, in 2006. Jordan was given control of the basketball operations by majority owner Robert L. Johnson as part of the deal.
In February 2010, Johnson sold his remaining share to a Jordan-led consortium. The Bobcats finished the season in the NBA playoffs, but the results subsequently haven’t been great. They reached rock bottom two years later, going 7-59 in a strike-shortened season, and have only won two games since then.
In 2014, Charlotte returned to its old Hornets mascot when the New Orleans team changed its name to the Pelicans. Although Jordan remains the team’s primary owner, there are a few intriguing what-if possibilities to ponder, one of which involves Antetokounmpo’s destiny.
MJ’s effort to purchase a franchise in Charlotte wasn’t his first.
The first Charlotte Bobcats franchise was granted to George Shinn by the NBA for the 1988-89 season, and the area welcomed the club. Shinn, on the other hand, was in serious personal and financial problems by the time he was a little more than a decade old, and the public was turning against him. Jordan came close to purchasing 49 percent of the club in 1999 after then-commissioner David Stern urged Shinn to surrender ownership. According to the Orlando Sentinel, this fell through because Shinn wanted to maintain control of the operations.
The original Hornets would almost likely never have left town if Jordan, a North Carolina native who surrendered his tiny share in the Wizards to continue his playing career, had acquired ownership.
Jordan’s second attempt to purchase a club occurred in 2003, when Herb Kohl placed the Bucks on the market. Kohl bought the club for $18 million in 1985 and looked to be close to selling it to a group Jordan had put together after his departure from the Wizards. The parties struck a preliminary deal in June, according to ESPN, and Jordan could potentially oversee the draft room while Kohl sought league permission to finalize the transaction.
Unfortunately for Jordan, Kohl chose to keep the club after feeling skepticism from potential local investors about the $170 million asking price. In April 2014, Kohl sold the bulk of his stock to hedge fund managers Wes Edens and Marc Lasry.
What would have happened if Michael Jordan had purchased the Milwaukee Bucks?
During the Milwaukee Bucks’ victory parade and rally, Giannis Antetokounmpo holds the Larry O’Brien Trophy. | Getty Images/Patrick McDermott
Jordan has a poor track record when it comes to draft selections. In reality, one of his few correct picks was Kemba Walker in 2011, but PJ Washington (2019) and LaMelo Ball (2020) seem to be promising.
With that in mind, let’s return to the 2013 NBA Draft. Jordan selected Cody Zeller of Indiana with the fourth overall selection. Would Jordan have had the foresight to get Antetokounmpo at No. 15 with Zeller and a slew of other probable selections already off the board?
Would he have had the insight to deal Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons for Khris Middleton, who had a lackluster rookie season, that same summer?
All evidence indicates that the answer is no, based on the manner he has led the Hornets. Bucks supporters should be grateful that Kohl backed out of the Jordan agreement when he did, because they would still be searching for their second NBA title.
Basketball Reference provided all stats.
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