Spanoulis at EuroBasket 2009.
|Nickname||Kill Bill, V-Span, Billy The Kid|
|Position||Point Guard-Shooting Guard|
|Height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Weight||205 lb (93 kg)|
|Born||August 7, 1982
|Draft||2nd round, 50th overall, 2004
|Former teams||Gymnastikos S.
Maroussi Athens (2001–05)
Houston Rockets (2006-07)
|Awards||Greek League Co-Most
Improved Player 2004
2x All-Euroleague Second Team 2006, 2009
2x Acropolis Tournament MVP 2007, 2009
Euroleague Final Four MVP 2009
Greek League MVP 2009
EuroBasket 2009 All-Tournament Team
Balkan Athlete of the Year 2009
Vasileios Spanoulis (in Greek: Βασίλειος "Βασίλης" Σπανούλης) (born August 7, 1982) is a Greek professional basketball player. Though most of his career has been spent playing in the Greek League, he also played with the Houston Rockets of the NBA. He is currently playing for Panathinaikos in the Greek League and the Euroleague.
Spanoulis began his basketball career with the youth teams of Gymnastikos and Keravnos in Larissa, Greece, playing in the junior levels from 1994 until 1999. He made his professional debut in the year 1999 at the age of 17 with the senior club of Gymnastikos S. Larissas. In the two seasons of 1999-00 and 2000–01 he played in the Greek A2 League with Gymnastikos.
After playing with Gymnastikos S. Larissas for three seasons, Spanoulis signed a four-year contract with Maroussi Athens of the A1 Ethniki Greek League, EuroCup League, and later the ULEB Cup League and played there until 2005.
During the 2001-02 season Spanoulis helped to lead Maroussi Athens to the finals game of the Greek Cup. This was the first time the team had ever made it to the Greek Cup Championship game. Maroussi BC also competed in the Korać Cup that year.
During the 2002-03 season Spanoulis led Maroussi to the Final Four of the European Champions League Cup (now known as the FIBA Europe EuroCup). Spanoulis averaged 10.8 points per game and 6.4 assists per game off the bench for Maroussi. He also shot 40% from three-point range. He was named both the league 6th man of the year and rookie of the year.
In the 2003-04 season Vassilis led Maroussi to the championship final of the Greek League A1 Ethniki playoffs and also to the FIBA Europe EuroCup League title championship game. He was named A1 Ethniki Most Improved Player of the Year. Spanoulis was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks following this sudden emergence. He also made the Greek national basketball team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
In the 2004-05 season, his last with Maroussi Athens, Spanoulis averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 37.8% from 3 point range in 35 games of the A1 Ethniki competition. He then averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 40.0% from 3 point range in 12 games of play in the ULEB Cup. For the year in total Spanoulis averaged 15.7 points per game and shot 38.3% from 3 point range in 47 games for Maroussi. He played in the 2005 Greek All-Star game and was named All-Greek League. This was a breakthrough year for Vasileios as he had averaged 11.1 points per game the previous year. He was considered to be one of the most improved players in Europe for the year. He led Maroussi to the 2nd place of the Greek championship for the regular season. At the end of the year, Spanoulis was voted European 6th Man of the Year and Rookie of the Year for the ULEB Cup. He was started being called "The Greek Steve Nash" by some FIBA Europe fans in Europe after this year.
Following his outstanding season in 2004-05 with Maroussi, he signed a 3-year contract worth €1.6 million euros net income with Euroleague (highest basketball league in the world after the NBA) powerhouse Panathinaikos Athens. Spanoulis and his agent Miodrag Ražnatović set the contract terms so that Spanoulis would have a buyout clause after just one year and set the buyout amount at US $400,000.
With Panathinaikos in the 2005-06 season he won the Greek A1 Ethniki league championship and the Greek Cup. His team went 24-2 during the regular season and 8-0 during the playoffs for an overall record of 32-2 in the league championship and also went undefeated in the Cup at 5-0 for an overall record of 37-2 in the Greek League. He played in the 2006 Greek All Star Game, and was named to the All Greek League Team.
In 28.8 minutes per game of play during the 2005-06 Euroleague competition, Spanoulis averaged 14.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 23 games of Euroleague play with Panathinaikos Athens for the season. He also averaged 61.8% for 2-point shooting and 36.8% from 3-point range; 53.4% overall.
He was the team's leading scorer even though he often came off the bench. He won the Euroleague MVP of the Week Award twice during the season. In 2005-06, his team finished the Euroleague with a record of 16-7. Spanoulis was also voted as the 7th best European Player of the Year (FIBA Europe 2006 Player of the Year).
On July 19, 2006, Spanoulis opted out of the final two years of his contract with Panathinaikos Athens and signed a three-year deal (2 years guaranteed) with the Houston Rockets who paid for his contract buyout from Panathinaikos. The contract was worth $5,832,000 USD, his buyout from his European club was $400,000 USD.
The contract amount was for an average of $1,944,000 USD per season. The Rockets had acquired the rights to Spanoulis on draft night (June 24, 2004), when Houston swapped draft pick #55 Luis Flores and cash considerations of $300,000 USD with the Dallas Mavericks for Spanoulis (pick #50).
“He’s a very versatile ball handler,” Rockets [then] general manager Carroll Dawson said. “He’s a good finisher and a very good prospect. He wants to be a great player. Everybody is going to like this young man because he is a very hard-nosed player. We have watched his progress very closely,” Dawson said. “It’s a big adjustment to come to the NBA from Europe, but he is a hard worker.”
Rockets [then] Director of Player Personnel Dennis Lindsey stated the following about Spanoulis prior to the team signing him. "We're very, very happy with his progress," said Lindsey. "He changed clubs this year from Maroussi to the bigger club this year, Panathinaikos. For those not familiar with European basketball, they are like the New York Yankees of Greece and one of the two or three better organizations in Europe. They are an NBA level club. From our standpoint, we really like what Vassilis has done. He is their leading scorer. They are 9-1 in the Euroleague and they have already qualified for the top sixteen."
Lindsey praised Spanoulis' offensive ability. "He's got a couple of characteristics that we like," added Lindsey. "He can really drive and get the ball in the paint, and he's relentless with it. He kind of plays basketball like a fullback a little bit, where he just kind of breaks through the line and there's contact on a lot of plays."
"The owner and Jeff and Carroll really like what they've seen so far and we've made a couple of trips over and hopefully in the near future we can have him as a Rocket because we think he can help us."
Spanoulis saw limited playing time with the Houston Rockets during his rookie year in 2006-07, averaging 2.7 points and 0.9 assists in 8.8 minutes per game on 31.9% field goal shooting (17.2% from behind the 3-point line) in 31 games played off the bench.
During Spanoulis' first NBA season there was a dispute between him and Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy over playing time. There was an issue between the team's management, Spanoulis, and the coach as well over the contract that Spanoulis had signed. In order to sign with the Rockets and fulfill his dreams of playing in the NBA, Spanoulis took a considerably smaller contract than the one that was being offered to him by his Greek team Panathinaikos Athens. He still had two years under his contract with Panathinaikos, but his buyout was small and could be paid by the Rockets.
Spanoulis agreed to play for Houston at a price of $1,944,000 USD gross income per season for 3 years, passing up on his former team Panathinaikos Athens' much larger offer of €1.6 million euros net income per season over 3 years, just for a chance of playing in the NBA. Spanoulis made the rotation, but eventually, there was a falling out between him and Rockets coach Van Gundy, after Van Gundy benched Spanoulis after he played poorly, citing that rookie players are dangerous for coaches that are in contract years and that Spanoulis was too turnover prone and lacking in outside shooting touch to be a good fit in Van Gundy's offensive system design. Said Van Gundy about the situation: "(Spanoulis) says, 'I was [Tracy] McGrady back home.' Great. McGrady is McGrady here," .. "I feel badly for him. He feels he was misled. Frankly, he's been his own worst enemy in many ways. Some of it is excuses. His turnovers have been high; his fouls have been high; his shooting percentage has been low. I would rather anybody start out with self-evaluation — what can I do better? — versus lash out and blame. Because I'm not playing him now doesn't mean he won't play in the future or we don't feel he could be a good player. I think he's allowed his disappointment to go to discouragement, which has, at times, stunted his improvement. We'll see. We'll see."
Spanoulis was traded by the Rockets to the San Antonio Spurs on July 12, 2007, along with a 2009 second-round draft pick, in exchange for center Jackie Butler and the rights to Argentinian power forward Luis Scola. On August 19, 2007 the Spurs released Spanoulis, giving him the chance to return back to Greece to play for the Panathinaikos Athens Greens as he had requested. This was officially announced on August 23, 2007.
Allegedly due to "family reasons," Spanoulis decided that he would not remain in the NBA, with his agent going as far as comparing the Rockets reluctance to break his contract to slavery. Spanoulis instead opted to return to Panathinaikos in the Greek Basketball League.
On August 19, 2007, Spanoulis was released by the San Antonio Spurs after deciding he wanted to play in Greece during the 2007-08 season. This was due to the fact that his mother was in poor health and Spanoulis wanted to be near her. Spanoulis signed a 3-year contract with Panathinaikos BC then defending European champions. He was signed to play point guard and shooting guard allow with fellow Greece national basketball team star Dimitris Diamantidis. Former NBA player Šarūnas Jasikevičius would later join them in the team's guard rotation.
The contract Spanoulis signed was for 3-years, at €5,500,000 euros net income salary plus a $1,166,400 contract buyout from his NBA San Antonio Spurs contract (Panathinaikos paid the buyout, so it did not count against the Spurs' salary cap). Spanoulis' agent set up the contract so that Spanoulis could opt out of it after one year. Spanoulis originally stated that after the first year of his contract he might opt out of it and return to San Antonio to play in the NBA again, provided the Spurs wanted him.
During the 2007-08 season, Spanoulis led his team Panathinaikos in both points scored (661) and assists (215) over 56 league games (36 Greek League games and 20 Euroleague games). He averaged 11.8 points per game and 3.8 assists per game for the season in 56 games total. Spanoulis led the Greek League regular season in assists (125), averaging 4.8 per game in 26 regular season games. He was voted as a starter to the Greek League All-Star Game and to the All-Greek League First Team.
Spanoulis helped Panathinaikos win the Greek basketball double, as the club won both the Greek Championship and the Greek Cup in 2008. In the Greek Cup final against Panathinaikos' arch-rival Olympiacos, Spanoulis led his team to the championship cup victory by scoring 20 points and dishing out 7 assists.
|Olympic medal record|
|Competitor for Greece|
|FIBA European Championship|
|Gold||2005 Serbia||National Team|
|Bronze||2009 Poland||National Team|
|FIBA World Championship|
|Silver||2006 Japan||National Team|
Spanoulis was a key member of the Greek national junior team at the FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship in the year 2000. Greece finished in third place in the tournament, winning the bronze medal. Spanoulis was on the Greek national junior team that finished in first place and thus won the gold medal at the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship in the year 2002. During the European Under-20 championship final game, Spanoulis sank two clutch free throws with just 13 seconds remaining on the game clock to clinch a win over the Spanish national junior team and win the gold.
Spanoulis made his debut with Greece's senior national team, the Greek national basketball team at the 2001 Mediterranean Games. He was a key member of the team for Greece during the tournament. Greece finished in second place in the tournament, winning the silver medal. He was a part of Greece's team that won the 2006 Stanković Continental Champions' Cup. Greece beat both Australia and Germany, whose team included NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, to win the tournament. Spanoulis led Greece in scoring during the tournament.
Spanoulis was named the MVP of both the 2007 and 2009 Acropolis Tournaments in Athens and he also won the same tournament 6 times with the Greek national team in the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.
Spanoulis made his debut with the Greek senior team's top unit (the unit that competes at major tournaments) for the first time in the summer of 2004 when he was selected by his then head coach at Maroussi BC, Greek basketball legend Panagiotis Giannakis to be a member of the Greek squad during the 2004 Olympic Games Basketball Tournament which was held in Athens, Greece. Spanoulis was able to play in front of his home country's fans at Helliniko Indoor Hall as Greece was the game's host country. Greece finished in 5th place in the tournament, losing to Manu Ginóbili and the Argentine national basketball team 69-64 in the medal round game. This was tied for the 2nd highest finish for Greece in basketball at the Olympics in its history. The 5th place finish, making Greece one of the top 5 teams in the world was the beginning of Greece's great run in international tournaments.
At the Eurobasket 2005, Spanoulis was a key member of the Greek team that won the European Championship and took home the gold medal. It was just the second time in Greece's history that the national basketball team won the gold medal at the European Championships and the first time since Eurobasket 1987 when the legendary Nikos Galis led Greece's national team.
Two years later, at the Eurobasket 2007, Spanoulis was again part of Greece's team. Greece played the tournament shorthanded as it was without key players Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis and was not able to medal in the tournament. Greece finished in 4th place in the tournament losing in the final four semi-final game against the Spanish national basketball team and its many star players like Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Jose Calderon, Sergio Rodriguez, Rudy Fernandez and Pau Gasol. Spanoulis was the game's leading scorer with 24 points and he also dished out 5 assists, but Spain got the win by a score of 82-77 over the depleted Greek squad. Spanoulis led the Greek team in scoring during the tournament with a scoring average of 11.7 points per game.
Spanoulis was a member of the Greek team that competed at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and he helped to lead the Greek team to the silver medal as they finished in second place in the tournament. In the final four semi-final game against Team USA he was the game's second leading scorer with 22 points and along with his teammate Theo Papaloukas led Greece to victory over the USA by a score of 101-95. Spanoulis led the Greek national team in scoring during the world championship with an average of 11.7 points per game and he also led the Greek team in free throw shooting percentage at 87.8%.
(*Assists under FIBA rules are counted much more stringently than under NBA rules. Generally, an NBA assist translates to a FIBA assist by about a 2:1 margin based on historical stats comparisons between the NBA and European basketball leagues. So for example, 5 FIBA assists would equal about 10 NBA assists.)
|1999-00||Gymnastikos||Greek A2 League||13||17.3||47.8||66.7||23.5||6.9||1.0||0.8*||0.6||0.1||17|
|2000-01||Gymnastikos||Greek A2 League||26||22.9||43.9||65.3||25.8||8.2||1.5||2.2*||1.1||0.0||18|
|2001-02||Maroussi||Greek A1 League||16||13.0||46.4||74.2||25.0||5.2||1.1||1.9*||0.4||0.0||19|
|2002-03||Maroussi||Greek A1 League||29||30.0||42.2||75.0||27.8||10.3||1.5||3.3*||1.7||0.0||20|
|2003-04||Maroussi||Greek A1 League||33||28.6||45.6||82.7||36.1||11.1||2.2||2.9*||1.1||0.0||21|
|2004-05||Maroussi||Greek A1 League||35||30.9||42.1||82.5||37.8||15.9||2.1||3.9*||1.4||0.1||22|
|2005-06||Panathinaikos||Greek A1 League||34||27.7||44.6||77.9||36.7||11.0||1.8||3.4*||1.0||0.0||23|
|2007-08||Panathinaikos||Greek A1 League||36||26.9||50.9||80.4||39.4||12.1||2.0||4.5*||1.0||0.0||25|
|2006-07 Playoffs||Houston Rockets||NBA||1||3.0||50.0||100.0||00.0||4.0||1.0||1.0||0.0||0.0||24|
|2000 U-18 European Championship||Greece||10.1||1.1||1.9*||17|
|2002 U-20 European Championship||Greece||15.6||3.2||5.1*||19|
|2004 Olympic Basketball Tournament||Greece||3.8||0.7||1.0*||22|
|2005 FIBA European Championship||Greece||2.4||1.1||0.3*||23|
|2006 Stanković Continental Cup||Greece||9.3||2.7||1.7*||24|
|2006 FIBA World Championship||Greece||11.7||1.8||1.3*||24|
|2007 FIBA European Championship||Greece||11.7||1.8||2.0*||25|
|2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament||Greece||12.8||2.5||3.8*||25|
|2008 Olympic Basketball Tournament||Greece||14.3||3.0||3.0*||26|