Aug 9, 2012

Nikos Deja Vu - Nikos Galis - My Tribute

Nikos Galis
A Greek legend
(My tribute)

Nick Galis (born July 23, 1957 in New Jersey), known in Greece as Nikos Galis (Greek: Νίκος Γκάλης), is a retired Greek basketball player, a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame and regarded as one of Europe's all-time greats in the sport. With his unbelievable performances in court and his rare professionalism, Galis grew into a living legend in Greece and is considered by many Greeks the greatest athlete the country has ever known.

The child of a poor immigrant family from Rhodes, Greece, Nick took up boxing in his early years, his father George Georgalis having been a very good boxer in his youth. He was persuaded to give up boxing by his mother, who was shaking with fright every afternoon that her son would return with a new facial injury. So he started being interested in basketball and enrolled in Union Hill High School. Later on he was admitted to Seton Hall University as a college basketball player. In his fourth and final year, Galis, by now a shooting guard, saw his points average reach 27.5 and his name ranked third among the leading NCAA scorers, behind the great Larry Bird and Lawrence Butler. He was selected by the Boston Celtics in the 4th round of the 1979 NBA Draft, 68th overall. However, circumstances did not favor the young player. Due to an injury during the Celtics preseason camp, the franchise was no longer interested in offering him a contract. It was then that Galis decided to pursue a professional career in Greece, a decision that would change the European basketball map forever.

Galis made the move across the Atlantic and signed for Aris of Thessaloniki, Greece (Panathinaikos and Olympiakos had showed some interest in the newcomer, but it was Aris' interest that was the most vivid). His return to the country helped Greek basketball reach heights never imagined before, leading the national team to the Eurobasket 1st place in 1987 with 37.0 ppg (MVP, 40 points in the final against the Soviet Union, 103-101) and 2nd place in 1989 , averaging 35.6 points. Galis participated in one World Championship in 1986 , where he again led all players in scoring with 33 ppg, and had a 53-point outburst against Panama. Aside from the 1987 final against the Soviet Union, Galis is also remembered for a stunning effort against the same team in the 1989 Eurobasket semi-finals, when he scored 45 out of his team's 81 points in a dramatic, last-gasp 81-80 victory.

Averaging more than 30 points per game every season, Galis was the indisputable leader of Aris. Playing alongside other great players such as Panagiotis Giannakis and Slobodan Subotic, Galis won 7 Greek Championships (6 of them consecutively and 3 undefeated), five Greek Cups, and led Aris to 3 consecutive appearances at the European Champions Final 4 (1988-1990). In the one disappointment of a glittering career, all three appearances ended in defeat in the semi-finals, thus depriving him of the opportunity to shine on Europe's biggest club stage.The team's performances and general standard of play however won the heart of every basketball fan in Greece, as well as creating thousands more Aris' supporters. Indeed, cinemas and theatres would often reduce their admission prices on Thursday evenings when Aris were playing and the entire country settled down to watch them on television.

After a disappointing season in 1992, Galis was forced to leave Aris. The new president of Aris and the fact that the team was then in decay were the main causes for his departure. Galis, who adored Thessaloniki, insisted about remaining in the club and playing for the team, as he believed that he still could offer much. Giorgos Rampotas, his personal trainer and friend, writes in "Galis' Biography" that Thessaloniki was what mattered most to Galis. Consequently, after he was forced to leave he even contemplated playing for Aris' greatest opponent PAOK, without ever doing so though.

Galis ended up moving to Athens and specifically Panathinaikos where he only managed to win one Greek Cup, in 1993. The following year, he returned to the European Final Four with Panathinaikos but, as in his previous three attempts with Aris, lost in the semi-finals and had to be content with top-scoring in the 3rd-place match against Barcelona. His career ended controversially in 1994 when Kostas Politis (then coach of Panathinaikos) chose not to include him in the starting line-up of a Greek Championship game against Ambelokipi. Galis left the court, never again to return to action.

Since his retirement (September 29, 1995) he is the owner of a summer basketball camp in Halkidiki, Greece, a business listed at the Athens Stock Exchange.

As a token of appreciation for his contribution to Greek sport, Galis was chosen to be the first torchbearer in the final round of the Olympic Flame for the Athens 2004 Olympics: he entered the stadium at the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony and set off the procession of the Flame to the altar.

It has been noted that he was not only a legendary scorer but also a great playmaker and passer.

The vast majority of his points came inside the paint due to his astonishing penetration.Another enormous advantage of Galis was his incredible stamina, due to his exemplary physical condition. It's one amazing thing to score 37 points per game at the highest level like the 1987 Eurobasket, but it's much more spectacular to do all that on mostly penetration as a short guard, with the entire defense focusing on you and without resting for even one split second since the second day of the competition.Galis used actually to play all 40 minutes of a game without being substituted. Moreover, all teams knew that he was the main guy to stop on the Greek team, and the entire defense focused on him.

Galis' jersey number with Aris was initially 7. He then changed it to 6 and kept it until the end. Aris has since unofficially retired the number 6. His number when playing for the Greek National Team was 4.
Soviet Union basketball star Sergei Belov commented on 1987: "I admire him. When he plays one on one there is no way to stop him. I never thought there could be a player who could on his own beat the Soviet Union."
Former Soviet Union coach Aleksandr Gomelsky once called him "the player of the 21st century."
“I feel that if Galis wants to make a basket, he will do it no matter who his opponent is,” Lithuanian superstar Arvydas Sabonis has said.
“I’d love to play with Galis in the same team,” said the legendary Drazen Petrovic shortly before his death in 1993. “I would assist him the ball and he would put it in the basket.”
Famous former NBA player Bob McAdoo has said: "I've seen Galis doing things that I have not seen either Lakers or Celtics doing."
In October 1983, in a game between the Greek national team and University of North Carolina in the "Dimitria" tournament, the great Michael Jordan said: "I did not expect to find such a good offensive player in Europe, especially in your country."
Once during a pre-game press conference, the opposite coach announced "I found the way to stop Galis. I 'll shoot him".
“If I'm the Devil's son, then Galis is the devil himself”, legendary Drazen Petrovic has said.

In 854 official games played, Galis scored a total of 25,995 points, an impressive 30.4 points per game.
In 168 games with the Greek national team, he averaged 30.46 points.
Galis was the leading scorer in every major European or World national event he participated from 1983 onwards. (1986 World Championship - Eurobaskets 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991).
His personal scoring record in one game is 62 points (1981, Aris-Ionikos). However in the same game, his future teammate Panagiotis Giannakis scored 73 points!
His career high in a European competition was 57 points against Venice during the 1981 Korac Cup.

Galis won numerous titles and awards during his career. The following are some of them:

Greek Championship: 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
Greek Cup: 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993
Greek championship MVP: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
Eurobasket: 1987
Eurobasket runner up: 1989
Eurobasket MVP: 1987

Greece Shocks Europe
and Win 2005 EuroBasket Gold

25 September 2005: Greece concluded their improbable EuroBasket run with a convincing 78-62 victory over Germany to win the gold medal.
In front of a raucous pro-Greece, sold out crowd of 19,000 at the Belgrade Arena, the Greeks used their trademark of teamwork and solid defence to roll to victory over a Dirk Nowitzki led German team.
As the final buzzer sounded, players ran on to the court in celebration and the thousands of Greek fans in attendance rose to their feet singing songs from their homeland. Head coach Panagiotis Yannakis was thrown in the air by his players.
Theodoros Papaloukas scored 22 points to lead Greece, including a pair of three-pointers that started the second half and ignited Greece´s break-out quarter when they extended their lead to double digits and took control of the game.
“It´s a big honour to see your country´s flag raised and to sing the national anthem,” said Theodorus Popouloukas. “I know everyone back home is on the streets celebrating.”
Papaloukas, who was selected to the 2005 EuroBasket All-Tournament Team, was again the man of the night, connecting on a driving lay-up to put Greece up 68-50 with 6:57 to go in the fourth and all that remained in doubt from that point on was how loud the celebration would be.
“We dreamed of this,” said Papaloukas. “I was 10 years old when coach´s team won. Now we realize we can do the same for Greeks kids. This is one of the greatest moments of our career.”

Theodoros Papaloukas:
Born: 08.05.1977
Place of birth: Athens (GRE)
Nationality: GRE
Height (m): 2.00
Weight (kg): 90
Position: G

Nikos Deja Vu

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