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Nikos Galis
Νίκος Γκάλης
Galis with Panathinaikos.
Galis with Panathinaikos.
Nickname Iron Man[1]
The Greek Michael Jordan[2]
The Gangster[3]
Nick The Greek[4]
Position Shooting Guard
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg)
League Greek League
Number 6
Born July 23, 1957 (1957-07-23) (age 52)
New Jersey, USA
Nationality Greek / American
College Seton Hall University
Draft 68th overall, 1979
Boston Celtics
Pro career 1979–1994
Former teams Aris Thessaloniki (1979–92)
Panathinaikos Athens (1992–94)
Awards Haggerty Award: 1979
11x Greek League Scoring Leader: 1981-91
1987 FIBA European Championship: MVP
Mediterranean Player of the Year: 1987
Mr. Europa Award: 1987
Euroscar Award: 1987
4x Greek League MVP: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
5x Greek Cup MVP: 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993
Seton Hall Athletic Hall of Fame: 1991
Greek Basketball Hall of Fame
FIBA Hall of Fame: 2007
Euroleague's 35 Greatest All-Time Players: 2008

Nikos Galis (alternate spellings include: Nick Galis, Nick Gallis, Nick Georgalis, Nikos Georgalis) (born July 23, 1957 in New Jersey, USA) (Greek: Νίκος Γκάλης), is a retired Greek American professional basketball player and an inaugural member of the FIBA Hall of Fame.[5] Galis is the Euroleague's all-time leader in both career points scored and points per game (counting both FIBA and ULEB games), and he led the Euroleague in scoring eight times. He is also the Greek A1 League's all-time leading scorer in both career points scored and points per game (counting games before the league split into two divisions).

In addition to that, he also holds the record for highest career scoring average at the FIBA World Championship, as well as the record for the most points ever scored at a FIBA World Championship tournament. Galis is widely regarded as one of Europe's all-time greatest players in professional club basketball history, as well as one of the all-time greatest players in FIBA international basketball history. He is also revered in Greece, where he is considered by many to be the greatest individual athlete that the country has ever produced. He is a legend within European basketball and a figure that inspired millions on the continent to take up the sport of basketball.


US career

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 Stella Georgalis, who was shaking with fright every afternoon that her son would return with a new facial injury. As a result, he started playing basketball and attended Union Hill High School in Union City, New Jersey. [6]

After high school, Galis enrolled at Seton Hall University as a college basketball player. In his senior season, Galis, a shooting guard, saw his scoring average reach 27.5 points per game, which was third in the nation behind Idaho State's Lawrence Butler (30.1 ppg) and Indiana State's Larry Bird (28.6 ppg),[7] including a 48 point outburst against the University of Santa Clara. Galis' coach at Seton Hall, Billy Raftery, would later state that Galis was the best player he ever coached. Finishing his collegiate career in 1979, Galis signed with agent Bill Manon, who also managed Diana Ross. Manon did not have Galis work out with any NBA team.[8] Galis was eventually selected by the Boston Celtics in the 4th round of the 1979 NBA Draft, 68th overall.[6]

Due to a severe injury that he suffered during the Celtics pre-season training camp, the franchise was no longer interested in offering him a contract because Gerald Henderson had taken his place[8] and his injury would keep him out for the foreseeable future. It was then that Galis decided to pursue a professional career in Greece's A1 League. Galis would later be offered NBA contracts by the Celtics and the New Jersey Nets while he was playing in Greece, but he turned the offers down because at the time FIBA did not have professional status, something it did not gain until the year 1989, and therefore Galis would not have been allowed to play for the Greek national team if he was an NBA player. Since playing for Greece's national team meant so much to Galis, he stayed in Greece. Celtics legend Red Auerbach later said that the single biggest mistake he ever made in his career was not keeping Galis.

Greek career

Galis made the move across the Atlantic and signed to play with Aris Thessaloniki of Thessaloniki, Greece in 1979. Panathinaikos Athens and Olympiacos Piraeus had also shown some interest in signing the newcomer, but it was Aris' interest that was the most persuasive. [6] His move to the country helped Greek basketball reach heights never before imagined. In 1983, while playing in a game in the Dimitria Tournament with the Greek national team against the North Carolina Tar Heels, Greece's shooting guard Galis, while being guarded by North Carolina's shooting guard Michael Jordan, scored 50 points during the game.[9] He played in the 1986 FIBA World Championship, where he led all players in scoring average with 33.0 points per game. In that tournament, he had a 53 point outburst against the Panamanian national basketball team.

Galis next led the Greek national basketball team to the 1987 FIBA European Championship gold medal. Averaging 37.0 points per game during the tournament, he was named the MVP of the tournament after scoring 40 points in the final against the Soviet Union national basketball team and its legendary player Šarūnas Marčiulionis for a 103-101 victory.

Galis also led Greece to the second place at the 1989 FIBA European Championship, averaging 35.6 points per game. Galis is remembered for a stunning effort against the Soviet team led by Marčiulionis and its other star player, Arvydas Sabonis, in the semi-final game. He scored 45 out of his team's 81 total points in a dramatic, last-gasp 81-80 victory. [10] The team settled for a second place finish against the ever-dominant Yugoslavian national basketball team.


Aris Thessaloniki

Averaging more than 30 points per game every season, Galis was the indisputable leader of Aris Thessaloniki. Playing alongside other great players at Aris such as Panagiotis Giannakis and Slobodan Subotić, Galis won 8 Greek Championships (7 of them consecutively and 3 undefeated, in the years 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991), 6 Greek Cups (4 of them consecutively, in the years 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992), and led Aris to 3 consecutive appearances at the European Champions' Cup Final Four (1988-1990). In the one disappointment of an otherwise glittering career with Aris, all three European Champions' Cup appearances ended in defeat in the semi-finals, thus depriving him of the opportunity to shine on Europe's biggest club stage. [6] 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 theaters would often reduce their admission prices on Thursday evenings when Aris was playing and the entire country settled down to watch them on television.

After a disappointing season of his team in 1992, Galis was forced to leave Aris. [11] 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 Thessaloniki, but when he decided to do so, PAOK coach Dušan Ivković did not approve due to personal contradistinctions. [12]

Panathinaikos Athens

Galis moved to Athens for Panathinaikos Athens and was the captain and the player that led Panathinaikos Athens to the rebirth after the disappointing previous season that placed PAO 8th at the championship.

Galis inspired the young plaers of Panathinaikos such Fragiskos Alvertis and Nikos Ekonomou and brought back the fans of the team so the small stadium of Glyfada was always overflowed of the croud. In his first season 1992-93 that Galis played in Athens, Panathinaikos took the second place of the championship and won the Greek Cup in 1993, the 7th Greek Cup for Galis.

The following year, Galis led Panathinaikos to the European Champions' Cup Final Four and placed 3rd a succes that Panathinaikos never reached before. He had to be content with being the top scorer in the 3rd-place match against FC Barcelona. He made one of his greatest games against Kinder Bologna at the round of 8.

In his third season in Panthinaikos Galis flanked with Giannakis and Paspalj to made a strong effort to win the Euroleague. Galis was the player who led Panathinaikos to the Euroleague's group of the 16 as he prevented the elimination of Panathinaikos from Budivelnik Kiev. He also was the leader of the win against Olympiacos for the Greek cup in the stadium of Sporting. But his career ended controversially on September 29, 1994, (a few games after the start of the 1994-95 season), when Kostas Politis (coach of Panathinaikos at that time) 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. [13]

Professional career scoring statistics

Competition Games Played Points Scored Scoring Average
Greek A1 League
Greek Cup
European Cups
FIBA International Competitions
(Greek National Team)
Career Totals

Greek National Team

Medal record
Competitor for  Greece
FIBA European Championship
Gold 1987 Greece Greece
Silver 1989 Yugoslavia Greece

He averaged 33.0 points per game at the 1983 FIBA European Championship, 33.7 points per game at the 1986 FIBA World Championship, 37.0 points per game at the 1987 FIBA European Championship, 35.6 points per game at the 1989 FIBA European Championship, and 32.4 points per game at the 1991 FIBA European Championship. Galis was only a 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) tall combo guard. In every one of the games that Galis played in these tournaments, the entire defense of every opposing team was focused on stopping his scoring outbursts.

Galis' top 10 scoring games with the Greek National Team

Points Date Opponents Final Game Score Tournament
53 7/5/1986 Panama 110-81 1986 FIBA World Championship
52 9/10/1984 Poland 88-89 1985 FIBA European Championship Qualification
49 7/20/1986 China 111-112 1986 FIBA World Championship
48 1/4/1981 Finland 101-92 FIBA International Tournament
48 11/19/1989 Denmark 113-91 Friendly
47 11/29/1984 Bulgaria 91-84 1984 FIBA World Championship Qualification
47 5/23/1982 Belgium 97-72 1983 FIBA European Championship Qualification
46 6/20/1986 Netherlands 104-88 1986 Acropolis International Tournament
46 11/25/1989 Romania 97-77 1989 FIBA European Championship Qualification
45 6/24/1989 Soviet Union 81-80 1989 FIBA European Championship

Player profile

It has been noted that Galis was not only a legendary scorer, but was also a great play maker and passer. [6] The vast majority of his points scored came inside the paint area due to his penetrating ability. [14] Another enormous competitive advantage that Galis possessed was his incredible stamina, which was due to his exemplary physical condition. This led to his being given the nickname of "Iron Man". At the 1987 FIBA European Championship, he was never once substituted out of any game after the second day of the competition.[14] His talent was admired even by the brother of the legendary Dražen Petrović, who said that Galis was better than his brother.


Nikos Galis in 2007, after being inducted an inaugural member of the FIBA Hall of Fame.

Since his official retirement on September 29, 1995, and up until early 2006, he has been the owner of a summer basketball camp in Halkidiki, Greece. The basketball camp is listed at the Athens Stock Exchange. [15] As a token of appreciation for his contribution to Greek sport, Galis was chosen to be the first torch bearer in the final round of the Olympic Flame for the Athens 2004 Olympics. Galis entered the stadium at the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony and set off the procession of the flame to the altar.

In September 2007, Nikos Galis was elected as a member of the first class of the FIBA Hall of Fame, which includes the best basketball players in the history of the game internationally. Galis was inducted as a player. Bill Russell of the famous Boston Celtics dynasty was another one of the 16 inaugural player inductees. Galis is also a member of the Greek Basketball Hall of Fame, inducted as a player. Galis is married to Eleni Panagiotou and he has one daughter, named Stella.

Awards and accomplishments

Galis won numerous titles and awards during his career and had many memorable single game performances. The following are some of them:


Pro career


  • Won 8 Greek Championships: 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
  • Won 7 Greek Cups: 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993
    (In total, he won 15 championships in his pro club career as a player.)

Personal awards and achievements:

Greek National Team



External links


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