Report: NBA team passed on Giannis Antetokounmpo because it thought he was soft and couldn’t survive in the league

Jonathan Sherman
3 Min Read

It can be argued that Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the greatest NBA draft steals of all time.

As fans know, Antetokounmpo is already a six-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA selection and two-time league MVP. He’s also got one championship and one Finals MVP to his name at just 27 years old.

His journey to greatness began when he was selected with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

He was a relative unknown coming out of Greece, but the Bucks front office saw something special in Antetokounmpo and took a big swing. Of course, that swing has worked out in the team’s favor.

However, there were teams that had serious doubts about Antetokounmpo. In fact, one team passed on him because it believed that he was soft and couldn’t survive in the NBA.

“An executive from one team that passed on Antetokounmpo in the June draft did so because the word was that the teenager was soft,” Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN reported. “For all the raw talent and upside, Antetokounmpo, who spoke no English and had limited exposure to the world outside of Greek basketball, couldn’t survive in the NBA. The intel also warned that Antetokounmpo’s family could be an impediment: The immigration status of his parents and brothers was thorny and the task of getting them into the United States could present complications for a team that drafts him. Being alone in a strange city without his family, the thinking went, Antetokounmpo would struggle personally.”

Antetokounmpo is fiercely dedicated to his family, and the Bucks made sure that they were able to help his family make its way to the United States as well. A couple of his brothers now have NBA careers of their own.

In retrospect, the concern that Antetokounmpo was soft is quite laughable. He is famous for his dedication to strength and fitness and has learned to impose his will on opposing players on both the offensive and defensive side of the floor.

As the 2022 NBA Draft quickly approaches, NBA fans should take this story as a lesson to learn. When it comes to young and underdeveloped basketball players, it is sometimes more important to look at the potential they possess.

That’s what the Bucks did in 2013, and they now have a generational talent that seems uniquely dedicated to the team that drafted him.

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Jonathan has worked as a sports writer covering NBA and NFL news since 2017. He's a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Vikings.