Mark Cuban admits he made final call to pass on Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013
Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo might have actually been a Dallas Maverick if not for the meddling of owner Mark Cuban.
In a recent interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Cuban admitted that he made the final call to pass on Antetokounmpo in the 2013 NBA Draft, overruling some members of the Mavs front office.
“Our guys were like, ‘We should take the Greek Freak,'” said Cuban, per SportsDay. “All we had was two tapes, and someone who would go to see him, but we were trying to get Dwight [Howard] — that was the Dwight year, too. And, OK, we’re trying, we have a plan, we’re gonna stick to it. We thought we had a good shot. Didn’t turn out that way.
“It was me,” Cuban continued. “Donnie [Nelson] was like, ‘OK, I’m putting my you-know-whats on the table.’ He was doing the Sam Cassell, Nick Van Exel dance. … It’s all in. And I’m like, ‘Donnie, we have this plan.’ Because even as good as the Greek Freak has turned out to be, he was still three years away, and we wanted to try to get somebody who could help get us to the top right there and then. Didn’t turn out that way, it is what it is, that happens.”
Dallas owned the No. 13 overall pick that year and drafted Kelly Olynyk before trading his rights to the Boston Celtics for No. 16 pick Lucas Nogueira. The Mavs then flipped Nogueira’s rights along with Jared Cunningham and No. 44 pick Mike Muscala to the Atlanta Hawks for No. 18 pick Shane Larkin, who played only one season for them and has been out of the league since 2016.
Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo was selected by the Bucks with the No. 15 pick and has since developed into one of the NBA’s brightest young stars at the age of just 22. The raw talent and physical gifts were always there for The Greek Freak, but in fairness, nobody could have possibly envisioned him getting this good this fast. Still, that won’t be of much solace to Cuban (who has made other interesting draft decisions in recent years) and the Mavs for passing on a legitimate franchise player and having essentially nothing to show for it.