Here's how close the Celtics were to drafting Tony Parker in 2001

Darren Hartwell

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Here's your friendly reminder that Tim Duncan wasn't the only San Antonio Spurs player who got away from the Boston Celtics.

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In a column for The Athletic on Monday, NBA writer Mike Monroe detailed how close the Celtics came to selecting Tony Parker with the No. 21 pick in the 2001 NBA Draft.

As Monroe wrote, first-year Boston general manager Chris Wallace was ready to draft Parker at No. 21 -- before team president and Celtics legend Red Auerbach overruled him.

"It was Auerbach who nixed Parker and insisted that North Carolina shooting guard Joe Forte be the team's pick at No. 21," Monroe wrote, "a fact confirmed in recent days by several league executives familiar with the Celtics decision on what would become a fateful night for the Spurs."

If you haven't heard of Forte, it's because he lasted just one season in Boston and was out of the NBA by 2003. Parker, meanwhile, went on to win four NBA titles over 17 seasons in San Antonio.

But Parker apparently was convinced he'd be a Celtic on that 2001 draft night.

"I remember the lady from the NBA coming to get me," Parker told Monroe. "She came to get me and said, ‘OK, you're going to be the next one. They're going to draft you, 19 or 21, something like that.' "

That's when Auerbach infamously intervened with a decision that would leave the Celtics without a star point guard until Rajon Rondo arrived in 2006.

"She came back and said, ‘Oh, no, go back,' " Parker said. "I don't know what happened."

One executive told Monroe that Auerbach's skepticism of European point guards led him to overrule Wallace and spurn the France native.

Parker, whose jersey will be retired in San Antonio on Monday night, spent the better part of two decades proving Auerbach wrong over one of the biggest "what if" moments in Celtics history.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Mavericks, which tips off Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

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Here's how close the Celtics were to drafting Tony Parker in 2001 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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