Basketball in Greece

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Basketball in Greece
Country Greece
Governing body Hellenic Basketball Federation
HEBA
National team Greece
First played 1910
Clubs 14 (Men)
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions

The sport of basketball in Greece erupted with the senior men's Greek national basketball team's win at the FIBA EuroBasket 1987 in Piraeus, which caused a general basketball euphoria in the country. Since then, men's Greek national teams have reached constant international success, leading Greece to join Russia, Serbia, Croatia, Italy, Spain, France, and Lithuania in the circle of European basketball powers. In addition to the national team's triumph in 1987, Greece won a gold medal at the FIBA EuroBasket 2005, silver medals at the FIBA EuroBasket 1989 and the 2006 FIBA World Championship, as well as the bronze medal at the FIBA EuroBasket 2009.

At the professional club level, Greek men's basketball clubs have, at European Cup competitions, under both FIBA Europe and Euroleague Basketball, won 17 European championships, 9 of which have been at the 1st-tier EuroLeague level, as well as two world club championships at the FIBA World Cup for Champion Clubs, bringing the total amount of international titles won by Greek men's clubs to 19. At the women's professional club level, Athinaikos won the title of the 2nd-tier Eurocup in 2010.

History[edit]

The early years of the sport in Greece[edit]

The sport of basketball has a long history in the country of Greece, having first come to the country in the year 1910. The first official championship of the Greek League, then called the Panhellenic Championship, was contested as regional champions playing against each other to decide a winner, starting with the 1927–28 season.

Faidon Matthaiou, considered to be the Patriarch of the basketball in Greece

The great Greek athlete, Faidon Matthaiou, is considered to be the patriarch of the sport in the country. He was the country's first great player in the sport. He led Greece's senior men's national team to get the bronze medal at the FIBA EuroBasket 1949, in the first tournament it competed in, right after the national team had been formed. Matthaiou would go on to become one of the best players in Europe in the 1950s.

The 1950s[edit]

The first great club team in the history of Greek basketball was the Greek League club Panellinios. Panellinios featured 5 great players, known as the "Golden Five" ("Chrysi Pentada"), or "The Fabulous Five":[1] Panagiotis Manias, Themis Cholevas, Kostas Papadimas, Mimis Stefanidis, and Aristeidis Roubanis. The Golden Five, and its head coach, Nikos Nisiotis, was considered to be one of the best teams in Europe at the time in the 1950s, as it won the invitational European tournament 2 out of 3 years, and made the final in the other year. The invitational European tournament was the forerunner tournament of the EuroLeague.

During that era, Panellinios took part in the biggest international tournaments in Europe, the predecessors of the EuroLeague that were then held instead of the EuroLeague tournament. The club advanced to the final of the 1954 San Remo Tournament, which they lost 81-74 to the Italian League club Borletti Milano. Panellinios then won the 1955 Brussels Tournament, by defeating the Yugoslav League club Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) in the final, by a score of 91-67. Panellinios also won the 1956 San Remo Tournament, by defeating the Italian League club Minganti Bologna, by a score of 67-37.

Nisiotis is credited by most as being mainly responsible for the development of the sport in Greece in the 1930s and 1940s. Panellinios also featured the great scorer Antonis Christeas.

The Spanoudakis brothers, Ioannis and Alekos, who were players of Olympiacos, were among the first early important pioneers of the sport in the country. Boston Celtics players Bob Cousy, and the Greek American player Lou Tsioropoulos, came to Greece in the 1950s, and gave teaching clinics on what the Celtics were doing, and how they were playing the game at the time. The Spanoudakis brothers learned directly from them, and were among the first players in Greece to incorporate much of the American style of basketball, and to begin playing a brand of basketball in Greece that incorporated many of the moves and plays that they had been shown by the Celtics players.

The 1960s[edit]

In the 1963–64 season, the top men's basketball Greek League formed into a national league system for the first time. Up until that point, the Greek men's national basketball championship had been contested by teams locally at the regional level, with the champions of each regional level then playing against each other. With the start of the 1963–64 season, a true nationwide league system, called the Alpha National Category, was formed for the first time

The next great club team in men's Greek basketball was AEK, which became the first Greek team to win a European trophy in any sport. AEK was led by great players such as: Georgios Amerikanos, Georgios Trontzos, who was the first 7 footer to play for Gonzaga University, Christos Zoupas, and Antonis Christeas, who had also been a part of the great Greek Panellinios teams of the 1950s.

AEK made it to the 1966 Final Four of the FIBA European Champions Cup of the 1965-66 season, which was the first time that the EuroLeague ever used a final four system, thus becoming the first Greek team to ever play in a final four in the EuroLeague. AEK also won the championship of the 2nd-tier level Cup Winner's Cup of the 1967-68 season, which was the first European trophy won by any Greek sports team.[2] In the final game against Slavia Prague, which took place in Pangrati, Athens, at Panathenaic Stadium, the attendance was 80,000 people seated in the stadium, and 40,000 people standing, with an additional 3,000 police officers to keep order.[3]

AEK won 5 Greek League championships in the decade of the 1960s, in a sequence of 4 in a row and 5 out of 6 (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968), surrounded by an earlier Greek League championship in 1958, and another later one in 1970. Making it a total of 7 Greek League championships won in 11 seasons for the club in that era.

The next great individual Greek player was Georgios Kolokithas, who was considered to be one of the greatest scorers in European basketball in his time in the 1960s. He was the Greek League Top Scorer 3 times, in the years 1964, 1966, and 1967. He was also the FIBA EuroBasket Top Scorer twice, in the years 1967 and 1969. He was named to the FIBA European Selection in 1970. After the great career that he had, Kolokithas was named one of FIBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1991.

Professional national club competitions[edit]

The Greek Basket League[edit]

Main article: Greek Basket League
Official Greek Basketball League name sponsor English version logo

The first official men's basketball championship in Greece was held in the 1927–28 season. Until 1963 however, there was no unified national championship, and the champion was chosen through games between the regional champions. In 1963, the A National Category (Α' Εθνική Κατηγορία) was created. In 1992, the championship abandoned its amateur status and was officially recognized by FIBA Europe as a fully professional league under the name HEBA A1 (Greek: ΕΣΑΚΕ Α1), organized by the Hellenic Basketball Clubs Association (HEBA). The league now operates under the name of Greek Basket League.

The Basket League is ranked as one of the 5 "A" level national domestic leagues in European basketball by the European national basketball league rankings, and was considered Europe's best pro national domestic league during the 1990s. This professional league consists of 14 teams. Under the regulations, the bottom two teams at the end of the regular season are relegated to the Greek A2 Basket League (Greek: Ελληνική Α2 καλαθοσφαίρισης), while conversely, the top two teams from the A2 are promoted to the Basket League. The first placing 6 teams of the regular season qualify for the playoffs.

Greek Women's Basketball League[edit]

The Greek Women's Basket League began in 1967, and consists of 10 teams. The Women's A National Category (Greek: Α' Εθνικής Κατηγορίας Γυναικών) began with the 1984–85 season, and it became known as the Women's A1 National Category (Greek: Α1 Εθνικής Κατηγορίας Γυναικών) in 1997.

Cup competitions[edit]

The men's Greek Basketball Cup was held for the first time officially in 1976. After 39 cups, Panathinaikos has won the most Greek Cups with 17. From 1995 to 2004, the tournament was held in a Final Four style tournament. It is organized by the Hellenic Basketball Federation (E.O.K.).

In the women's competition, the cup tournament was first held in the year 1996.

Successes of the pro club teams[edit]

Greek men's professional basketball teams have a total of 28 appearances in the finals of European cup competitions, of which they have won a total of 17 trophies. One of the greatest achievements of Greek basketball are the victories of Panathinaikos (1996, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2011) and Olympiacos (1997, 2012, 2013) in the Finals of the 1st-tier men's EuroLeague competition. Panathinaikos also won the international worldwide club title, the FIBA World Cup for Champion Clubs competition, in the year 1996. Olympiacos also won the same title in 2013.

International titles won - men's club teams[edit]

Panathinaikos

Olympiacos

AEK

Aris

PAOK

Maroussi

International titles won - women's club teams[edit]

Athinaikos

International successes of the Greek national basketball teams[edit]

Since winning the senior men's basketball EuroBasket 1987, the record of Greek national basketball shows numerous successes. The men's national youth teams especially have recorded successes in international competitions.

Successes of the men's senior national team[edit]

Since the senior men's Greek national basketball team won its first EuroBasket in 1987, it has been a regular competitor at the EuroBasket, FIBA World Cup, and the Summer Olympics. The men's senior national team from 1987 included legendary players such as: Nikos Galis, Panagiotis Giannakis, Panagiotis Fasoulas, and Fanis Christodoulou. PanaGiotis Giannakis also later became the senior team's head coach, and he led the Greeks to win the European Championship (EuroBasket) again, in the year 2005, at Belgrade. Giannakis became the first person ever to have succeeded in winning the FIBA European Championship (EuroBasket), both as a player and as a head coach. After Greece had earlier in 2004 also won the European Championship in football, it gave Greece the rare distinction of being the European champion in the two most important team ball sports at the same time. At the 2006 FIBA World Championship held in Japan, Greece reached the final, and won the silver medal. They accomplished this after becoming the only team at the tournament to beat Team USA, whom they defeated in the semifinals, by a score of 101-95.

Greece's senior men's team then won the bronze medal at the EuroBasket 2009.

Medals[edit]

Senior national teams[edit]

2006 FIBA World Championship: the Greek basketball team won the silver medal.

The senior men's Greek national basketball team took part in its first FIBA European Championship (EuroBasket) at the EuroBasket 1949, where they won the bronze medal. Greece's first big success as a nation in basketball was when their senior men's national team won the gold medal at the EuroBasket 1987, which led to a breakthrough for the sport of basketball in the country. In the EuroBasket 1987 tournament's final, which was played in Piraeus, Greece, at Peace and Friendship Stadium (SEF), Greece defeated the heavily favored Soviet national basketball team (which included star player Šarūnas Marčiulionis) in overtime, by a score of 103 to 101.

The MVP of the EuroBasket 1987 was Nikos Galis, who to this day, still remains the biggest sports icon in Greece. In the subsequent EuroBasket tournament in 1989, Greece again reached the final, where they lost to the Yugoslavia national team, which led by its star player, Dražen Petrović, went undefeated during the tournament. By taking the silver medal at the EuroBasket 1989, Greece cemented its position among Europe's leading basketball nations.

Greece also won the gold medal at the EuroBasket 2005, which was held in Serbia, after defeating Dirk Nowitzki-led Germany in the finals, by a score of 78 to 62.

Greece's senior men's national basketball team took part in a World Championship (now known as the FIBA Basketball World Cup) for the first time at the 1986 FIBA World Championship, where they finished in tenth place. Greece made it to the semifinals of both the 1994 FIBA World Championship and the 1998 FIBA World Championship, which Greece also hosted. At the 2006 FIBA World Championship, which was held in Japan, Greece won the silver medal, after defeating the heavily favored USA, by a score of 101-95 in the semifinals. Greece also took the bronze medal at the EuroBasket 2009.

Junior national teams[edit]

The Greek junior national team won a gold medal at the 1995 junior men's FIBA Under-19 World Championship. As the tournament's host nation, the Greek junior national team won the gold medal, by defeating the junior men's Australia national basketball team, by a score of 91-73 in the final. The gold medal winning under-19 team of 1995 included such players as: Michalis Kakiouzis, Nikos Chatzis, Giorgos Kalaitzis, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Giorgos Karagkoutis, and Efthimis Rentzias, who was voted the MVP of the tournament.

Mediterranean Games[edit]

Greece has also always taken part in the Mediterranean Games. The greatest success of the men's national team at the Mediterranean Games is the gold medal, which they won in 1979. Furthermore, Greece has won four silver medals at the tournament, in the years 1991, 2001, 2005, and 2009. In addition to that, they have also won three bronze medals at the tournament, in the years 1955, 1971, and 1987.

The Greek women's national team won the bronze medal at the competition in 1991.

Arenas[edit]

The first professional basketball indoor arena in the country was opened in 1959, in Athens. Located at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, the Pavlos Giannakopoulos Indoor Hall holds 2,000 spectators, and is still home to the ladies' basketball department of Panathinaikos. Because of its confined environment, the sports hall was named The Tomb of The Indian, after the Fritz Lang feature film The Indian Tomb.[4] In the subsequent years, a number of other arenas have arisen in Greece, located mainly in Athens and Thessaloniki. In 1966, in Thessaloniki, the Alexandreio Melathron Nick Galis Hall was opened. This 5,500 seat (including temporary seating) arena was for decades home to both of the two arch-rivals Aris and PAOK.[5]

The Peace and Friendship Stadium (SEF), originally a 17,000 capacity multi-purpose hall, opened in Piraeus, Athens in 1985. The arena was for the next ten years, the biggest indoor sports hall in Greece, and it hosted events such as the EuroBasket 1987, the 1994 World Volleyball Championship, the 1995 European Volleyball Championship, the 1998 FIBA World Championship, and the 1999 Olympic Weightlifting World Championship. SEF is the home of the Olympiacos men's basketball club.[6]

By the early 1990s, the sport of basketball had become well established in Greece, and the Greek Basket League had become the strongest professional national domestic league in Europe, as well as the richest. A rising number of television viewers in Greece were watching the league, there was a high level of Greek media interest in the sport, and the application of the country to host major sports events had left many of the nation's existing gyms too old and too small for the times. So, in Athens, the Nikos Galis Olympic Indoor Hall was opened in 1995. It holds about 20,000 spectators, and it is still the biggest indoor sports hall in Europe (counting standing room capacity), where regular basketball games are held. The Nikos Galis Olympic Indoor Hall has hosted the 1995 FIBA Under-19 World Championship, the EuroBasket 1995, the 1998 FIBA World Championship, and the 2004 Summer Olympics. Currently, the men's clubs of Panathinaikos and AEK play home matches in the Olympic Hall. Maroussi's men's section has also played home matches there.[7]

Also in 1995, the 5,500 capacity arena Larrisa Neapolis, and the 5,150 capacity arena Dimitris Tofalos were built. In 2000, the first modern indoor sports arena in Thessaloniki was built, PAOK Sports Arena. The arena is under the possession of PAOK, and it holds 8,740 spectators.[8] For the 2004 Olympic Games, the Helliniko Indoor Arena was built. It holds 15,000 spectators, and has been used at various times, as the home arena of the Greek men's clubs Panionios, Panellinios, and AEK.[9]

Plans have been made to build some new modern indoor arenas in Greece. This is due to several factors, one of them being Euroleague Basketball's arena rules, which state that starting with the 2012-13 season, 1st-tier EuroLeague contract clubs must play in arenas that seat at least 10,000, non-contract EuroLeague clubs must play in arenas that seat at least 5,000, and all 2nd-tier EuroCup clubs must play in arenas that seat at least 3,000. One of these planned new indoor halls is a 5,000 seat arena owned by Panionios.

Major basketball events in Greece[edit]

Greece is the host of the Acropolis International Basketball Tournament, which takes place every year in Athens, since 1986. Specifically, these are:

Men's competitions:

Women's competitions:

Notable Greek basketball players[edit]

The following is a list of some notable Greek basketball players and some of their important career accomplishments:

Men:

Ladies[edit]

Notable Greek basketball coaches[edit]

Vangelis Alexandris

Georgios Bartzokas

Giannis Ioannidis

Dimitris Itoudis

Efthimis Kioumourtzoglou

Soulis Markopoulos

Faidon Matthaiou

Nikos Milas

Kostas Politis

Giannis Sfairopoulos

Panagiotis Giannakis

Notable foreign basketball players in Greece[edit]

With the financial rise of the professional men's club basketball competition, the Greek Basket League, during the 1990s, and the media interest for the league in Greece that was generated by large television viewership - there came a desire among viewers and fans to see Greek clubs bring in professional basketball players from abroad. Due to the Alpha 1 League's (its name at the time) immigration provisions, top foreign prospects chose the path of naturalization, in order to circumvent the league's rules. Among them were players from the former Yugoslavia, like Peja Stojaković and Marko Jarić, and from the ex-USSR, like Tiit Sokk. With the Bosman ruling in Europe in 1995, the Greek sports market was finally opened to foreign players, and as a result, today major players from around the world are active in the Basket League. The most notable foreign player that has played in the Greek League, is probably the American player Dominique Wilkins, who scored more than 26,000 points in the NBA, and is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He left the Boston Celtics in 1995, and signed with Panathinaikos. Another well-known American player that moved to the Greek League, was the three-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, Byron Scott, who later became a head coach]] in the NBA. A super talent who moved to Greece from the NBA was Roy Tarpley. In 1986, Tarpley was selected by the Dallas Mavericks, in the first round, with the seventh (7th) overall pick of the 1986 NBA Draft. Tarpley made the NBA All-Rookie Team in his first season, and won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award the following year, when he averaged 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. In 1991, he was banned from the league for violating the NBA's drug-use policies, and in the 1992–93 season, he decided to come to the Greek League, first for Sato Aris, and then for Olympiacos. Some of the other prominent American players that moved to the Greek League, were Ken Barlow, Walter Berry, Rolando Blackman, P. J. Brown, Antonio Davis, Tony Delk, Eddie Johnson, Jeff Malone, Audie Norris, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, David Rivers, the four-time NBA champion John Salley, the two-time NBA champion Cliff Levingston, the future NBA head coach Scott Skiles, and Mitchell Wiggins.

Three of the most significant foreign European players in the history of the Basket League, are the Serbian player Dejan Bodiroga, the Croatian player Dino Radja, and the Lithuanian player Šarūnas Jasikevičius. All three were named among the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors in 2008, and Bodiroga and Jasikevičius were also named to the EuroLeague 2001–10 All-Decade Team. Bodiroga, a two-time FIBA World champion, and a three-time FIBA European champion, played for four years with Panathinaikos, and with them he won the EuroLeague championship twice. Despite the fact that he never played in the NBA, he was widely regarded as one of the world's best players at that time. Following a successful NBA career, Radja moved to the Greek League, and he later became one of the few players to star for both of the arch-rivals Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. Jasikevičius, who is widely considered one of the best European players of all-time, also moved from the NBA to the Greek League. Another well-known foreign European player to play in the Greek League was the Serbian player Dejan Tomašević.

Other well-known foreign European players that have played in the Greek League include: the Serbs Boban Janković, Žarko Paspalj, Željko Rebrača, Zoran Savić, the Croats Arijan Komazec, Stojko Vranković, Zdravko Radulović, Damir Mulaomerović, and Nikola Vujčić, the Slovenes Rasho Nesterović and Jure Zdovc. As well as the Lithuanians Artūras Karnišovas, Ramūnas Šiškauskas, and Linas Kleiza. As well as the Frenchman Jim Bilba, the Ukrainian Alexander Volkov, and the Montenegrin Nikola Peković.

There have also been some other notable foreign players that have played in the Greek League. Some of them include players like: the Puerto Rican player José "Piculín" Ortiz, the Israeli Oded Katash, the German Michael Koch, the Turkish player İbrahim Kutluay, and the Australians Andrew Gaze and Shane Heal. In recent years, key American players like Byron Dinkins, Maurice Evans, Alphonso Ford, Lawrence Funderburke, J.R. Holden, Roger Mason, Jeremiah Massey, Von Wafer, Josh Childress, and Acie Law have also played in the Greek League.

Notable foreign basketball coaches in Greece[edit]

Many foreign coaches have been active in the Greek League. The most important one among them is the Serbian coach Željko Obradović, who was the head coach at Panathinaikos, from 1999 until 2012. Since starting his coaching career in 1991, Obradović has won eight EuroLeague championships, five of them with Panathinaikos, and a total of 35 titles as a professional club coach, making him the most successful head coach in European men's pro club basketball history. Another foreign coach who has worked in the Greek League is Boža Maljković, who has won 19 championships in his coaching career. In 1996, he led Panathinaikos to their first EuroLeague championship, which was also the first ever for a Greek club.

Another foreign head coach who worked in the Greek League was the multiple world and European champion, Duda Ivković. Ivković coached five teams in Greece (Aris, PAOK, Panionios, Olympiacos, and AEK), and he twice led Greek clubs to winning a European Cup. The three-time European-winning head coach (2x EuroLeague and the SuproLeague), the Israeli Pini Gershon, also coached in the Greek League. Obradović, Maljković, Ivković, and Gershon were honored in 2008, when they were named four of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors. Some other important foreign coaches that have coached in the Greek League, are the American NBA head coach Scott Skiles, the legendary Krešimir Ćosić, Vlade Đurović, "the two Cups" Željko Pavličević, Zvi Sherf, Dragan Šakota, Petar Skansi, Jonas Kazlauskas, and David Blatt.

Greek players abroad[edit]

Historically, the best Greek players generally did not play abroad because of the financial strength of Basket League, enabling its clubs to keep the country's top players at home. Until the late 1990s, virtually all of the national team members played their club basketball in Greece. This situation began to change in the early 2000s, when the top leagues in Russia and Spain experienced huge financial growth, and a few top players chose to chase the even greater financial rewards and competitive challenge of the NBA.

This can be illustrated by the makeup of Greece's two EuroBasket-winning teams. All 12 players on the EuroBasket 1987 roster were under contract to Greek clubs, while five members of the EuroBasket 2005 squad were playing outside Greece. More recently, this phenomenon has begun to change as many Greek clubs, most notably long-time rivals Panathinaikos and Olympiacos, have offered top-notch salaries, to once again attract Greece's top players back home. Today, relatively few Greeks play in foreign leagues, and generally, they are usually not the country's best players. The final 12-man Greek squad for the 2010 FIBA World Championship included only three players who were under contract with a club in another country. Only one of the three, Nikos Zisis, had played outside the country for more than one season, going into the 2010 World Championship (he was preparing to start his second season with Montepaschi Siena of the Italian League). At the same time, Giorgos Printezis was entering his second season at Unicaja Málaga of the Spanish League, and Sofoklis Schortsanitis had just left Olympiacos for Maccabi Electra of the Israeli League.

In addition to the players already named above, some of the other Greek players who have played for significant periods outside the country include:



Among the favorite foreign leagues for Greek players are Russia's Russian Professional Basketball Championship (in its various forms over the years - Russian Superleague A, Russian PBL, and VTB United League), the Spanish ACB League in Spain, and the Italian Serie A in Italy.

Players from the Greek diaspora[edit]

The Greek diaspora has produced a number of prominent players who chose to start or establish their careers in Greece.

Perhaps the country's most celebrated player, Nikos Galis, is the son of Greek emigrants. He was born and raised in New Jersey. More recently, Pat and Nick Calathes, born and raised in Florida, who are descended from their Greek grandfather, chose to start their professional careers in Greece. The older Pat began his career at Maroussi, went from there to Kolossos, and then joined Panathinaikos, where Nick had played since beginning his professional career. Both remained at PAO through the 2011–12 season, after which they left Greece to continue their careers elsewhere in Europe (Pat in Israel and Nick in Russia). Pat now plays in Panathinaikos again, while Nick has also returned to Panathianikos, after a two year stint in the NBA. Michael Bramos is another American born player from the Greek diaspora, that chose to begin his pro career in Greece with Peristeri.

Lazaros Papadopoulos and Jake Tsakalidis were born to diaspora Greeks in the former Soviet Union, in modern-day Russia and Georgia respectively, but moved to Greece with their families at young ages, and they were developed in Greece. Both began their professional careers in Greece, but had extensive tenures outside the country, before eventually returning. Papadopoulos established himself as a star with Panathinaikos, but spent many of his best years in Russia, Spain, and Italy, while Tsakilidis spent seven years in the NBA, after starting with AEK Athens. Sergei Bazarevich, was also born and raised in the Soviet Union, and also had Greek lineage. He played in both Greece and the NBA.

One current Greek NBA player, Kosta Koufos, is also from the Greek diaspora, but he has never played with a Greek pro club. Like Galis, he is the son of Greek emigrants, and was born and raised in the U.S. (in his case, Ohio), but he went directly from Ohio State University, to the NBA, without a stopover in Greece. However, Koufos chose to represent the Greek national basketball team internationally, as did both Calathes brothers and Bramos. Recently, the Greek diaspora had produced players Tyler Dorsey and Zach Auguste, both of whom have only played in the USA, but have both chosen to represent Greece's national team internationally.

Greek NBA players[edit]

The first Greek-born basketball player that made the leap to the NBA was Antonis Fotsis. Fotsis was selected in the 2001 NBA Draft, by the Memphis Grizzlies, and he played with them in the NBA for one season. After one season in the NBA, Fotsis returned to Greece, reportedly due to homesickness. Efthimios Rentzias and Andreas Glyniadakis also played in the NBA for one season, before returning to play in Europe.

Vassilis Spanoulis, who is regarded to be the top Greek basketball talent, and the main Greek-born NBA prospect, moved to the NBA in 2006, to play with the Houston Rockets, but he returned to Greece after a disappointing season, both for himself and the Rockets. This was mainly due both to some personal disagreements that he had with then Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy, and because of personal family problems.[14]

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a Greek professional basketball player of Nigerian descent, who currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His nickname is "The Greek Freak". His older brother, Thanasis, played in 2 NBA games with the New York Knicks, before moving on to play in the Spanish League.

Jake Tsakalidis, who was born in Georgia, and raised and developed basketball-wise in Greece, played in the NBA from 2000 to 2007, after beginning his career in Greece. Sergei Bazarevich, born and raised in the Soviet Union, and of Greek descent. Some other NBA players with Greek citizenship include: Peja Stojaković, Rasho Nesterović, Marko Jarić, and Dragan Tarlać, whom all moved to Greece at a young age, and the Greek-American players Kurt Rambis, Kosta Koufos, and Nick Calathes. The Lebanese-born Rony Seikaly, who played in the NBA from 1988 to 1999, and also played with the senior men's United States national basketball team, was also raised and developed basketball-wise in Greece.

The Greek players Kostas Papanikolaou and Georgios Papagiannis, have also played in the NBA.

Greek WNBA players[edit]

Anastasia Kostaki and Evanthia Maltsi are female Greek professional basketball players that have played in the WNBA.

Players with the most men's Greek League championships won[edit]

This is a list of the basketball players that have won the most championships over the years in the men's 1st-tier level Greek League.

  • Players listed in bold are still active.
Ranking Player Championships Won
1. Greece Dimitris Kokolakis 12
2. Greece Fragiskos Alvertis 11
- Greece Takis Koroneos 11
4. Greece Kostas Tsartsaris 10
5. Greece Nikos Filippou 9
- Greece Apostolos Kontos 9
- United States Mike Batiste 9
- Greece Dimitris Diamantidis 9
- Greece Antonis Fotsis 9
10. Greece Nikos Galis 8
- Greece Georgios Kalaitzis 8
- Greece Michalis Romanidis 8
- Greece Georgios Doxakis 8
14. Greece Vassilis Spanoulis 7
14. Greece Panagiotis Giannakis 7

Basketball in the Greek media[edit]

On a daily basis, 16 newspapers in the country of Greece publish what is happening in the sport of basketball. Although the media's main focus is always on the men's professional club Greek League, they will also report on the lower level divisions, like the men's A2 League, as well as the NBA, and the other major European national domestic leagues, like the Spanish ACB League and big international club competitions like the EuroLeague.

Greek television has the ability to broadcast all of the men's Greek League games. The men's professional club Greek League has the TV rights to distribute itself on the Greek public broadcaster ERT, the private channel ANT1, and the pay TV station Novasport. EuroLeague games are also broadcast on Novasport, and the private channel Skai TV. Live broadcasts of the Greek League men's national championship, and European-wide professional club games are also offered by the country's large number of sports radio stations.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]