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Battle of Basketball Legends: When Michael Jordan Faced Nick Galis

nick galis michael jordan
Credit: Public domain/Greek Reporter illustration

The two basketball legends Michael Jordan and Nick Galis played in what would be one of the most epic games in history.

The Netflix documentary series The Last Dance has millions of viewers across the globe admiring the talent of the legendary Michael Jordan, undisputedly the greatest basketball player in the sport’s history.

Michael Jordan is considered by specialists and fans as the best basketball player of all time; his rise to fame began when he played for the University of North Carolina from 1981 to 1984, when he was named the best rookie player of the season (ACC Freshman of the Year), which was the first step in his brilliant career. In those days, Jordan found himself playing against Greece’s own basketball legend, Nikos (Nick) Galis.

Greek basketball legend, Nikos Gallis

Galis was not only the best Greek basketball player; he is the man who singlehandedly made Greeks love the sport of basketball. He was named one of FIBA’s 50 Greatest Players in 1991, was an inaugural member of the FIBA Hall of Fame, and was chosen as one of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors in 2008.

He led Greece in winning the Eurobasket Championship in 1987, driving millions of Greeks crazy for the sport, and for him as a player.

Galis is widely regarded as one of Europe’s greatest scorers to ever play the game, as well as one of the all-time greatest players in FIBA international basketball history. In 2017, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Greek superstar came to play against “Air” in October 20, 1983 when the University of North Carolina team traveled to play a friendly game against Greece’s national team on Alexandreio Court in Thessaloniki.

Michael Jordan vs Nick Galis an epic game

For Greek fans, the game was a rare showcase, watching an American team play against Greece’s finest. At the time, Galis was 26 and a must-see for all sports fans. Jordan was only 20, but he was already the king of the court, scoring 34 points against Galis’ 24 points.

North Carolina won 100-83 that night, but young Jordan was nonetheless impressed by Galis’ performance. “He is a complete player. I didn’t expect to see such a scorer from Europe, especially from your country,” Jordan told reporters after the game.

A video of that game found its way into Nikos Galis’ archives, and he released it to the public in recent years. The video was intended for the archive of the legendary coach Dean Smith, who led North Carolina in those glory years. The video quality is good, but unfortunately, there is no sound with the film.

However, it was a historical game for Galis and Greek basketball, and we are lucky to be able to watch it and appreciate in it these icons of the sport today.

At the very least, it serves as an early showcase of the incredible hoop talents of the unquestionably greatest basketball player of all time.

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