When the Milwaukee Bucks first hired Adrian Griffin as head coach to replace Mike Budenholzer, it was fairly well-known that he was Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s hand-picked man. This fact led many, including the Bucks’ front office, to overlook some obvious concerns that came with his hiring. One of these is that Griffin previously interviewed for 14 different head coaching jobs in the NBA, but did not get a single one.
But he was Giannis’ guy, so maybe the two-time NBA MVP who is so committed to excellence saw something in Griffin’s philosophy that others did not. Nothing else mattered, not even the fact that the front office would not let Griffin fill out his own coaching staff. Instead, the organization surrounded Griffin with veteran coaches who would be able to advise him as a first-time head coach.
Well, one of those coaches did not last long. Former Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, and Portland Trailblazers head coach Terry Stotts resigned before the season even began. That was worrisome, but most believed that once Griffin got his players, including Giannis and Damian Lillard, on the floor in the regular season, all would be well. Sure, there would be bumps, but they would figure it out.
But they have not figured it out. Despite being 30-13, which is tied for the second-best record in the NBA, the Bucks clearly have not been playing as well as they should be. Giannis himself publicly questioned Griffin’s coaching, particularly on defense. In the end, the red flags that were always there just became brighter, and Milwaukee made the decision that they felt best gave them a chance to compete for a NBA Championship this year.
Why Did Giannis Antetokounmpo Want Adrian Griffin as the Head Coach of the Milwaukee Bucks?
To be certain, the decision to fire Griffin in the middle of his first season is the right choice for a team with NBA Championship aspirations. However, it does not look good on Giannis who, as mentioned previously, picked Griffin as his choice for head coach.
So what was it, exactly, that led Giannis to choose Griffin over the other candidates. As fans may recall, the three finalists for the Bucks’ coaching vacancy were Griffin, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and former Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.
As it turns out, Giannis’ choice of Griffin had less to do with the man himself and more to do with the fact that he did not want to play for Nurse, who has since been hired by the Philadelphia 76ers. Per Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report:
“According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Antetokounmpo ‘chose to champion Griffin’ when the Bucks were choosing a new head coach during the past offseason after firing Mike Budenholzer.
“Stein added an important note, though, pointing out ‘the desire to play for Griffin is better described as a determination to play for someone other than Nick Nurse.’
Bucks fans may recall that it was Nurse’s Giannis Wall that constantly frustrated the two-time MVP and helped Toronto defeat Milwaukee in the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals. One would have thought that Giannis would have wanted to play for a coach who schemes against him so well instead of against him, but apparently that was not the case.