Younger fans may think of Danny Ainge as the basketball mastermind that's put together the modern-day Boston Celtics, a risk-taking executive that won't hesitate to pull the trigger on a move to improve his team and lead them to Championship contention.
But in reality, Ainge is way more than that. In fact, he played the game the same way he's pulled the strings of the Celtics' front office. His desire, passion, and brains lead every single step he takes. He gambled on both ends of the court, and more often than not, it paid off.
Ainge was a gifted athlete back in the day. To put it in context, he's the only person to ever be a named a high-school All-American in basketball, football, and baseball. He also spent 3 and a half seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays of MLB as a second baseman while still in college but clearly his dream was to make it in the NBA.
He then took his talents to the Boston Celtics and helped them win a couple of rings, later playing for the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns.
Needless to say, the Celtics didn't need him to lead the way with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson on the team but his contributions on both ends of the court were simply remarkable, his grit, hustle, and effort were just contagious.
That's why Michael Jordan went as far as to compliment him by claiming he'd never lose a game if he had 4 Danny Ainges as teammates:
“I wish I had four Danny Ainge’s as teammates. With his desire and hustle, we’d never lose a game," His Airness claimed, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.
Jordan had a lot of respect for Ainge. In fact, they faced off for a golf match before MJ had to take the Celtics in the 1986 playoffs. Ainge picked on him and Jordan responded by introducing himself to the world with a 63-point masterpiece, although the Celtics still knocked him out of the playoffs.
Danny spent 13 seasons in the NBA as a combo guard and averaged 11.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game on 46/37/84 shooting but his impact went beyond the stat sheet and he sure deserves more recognition.