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Basketball Legend Nick Galis Honored by Consulate of Greece in Chicago

Honoring ceremony of Greek basketball legend Nick Galis for his contribution to sports.
Honoring ceremony of Greek basketball legend Nick Galis for his contribution to sports. Credit: Consulate General of Greece in Chicago.

The Consulate General of Greece in Chicago honored Greek basketball legend Nick Galis for his contribution to Greek sports, with his presence in the US city being the reason he was not able to attend the celebration of his former Greek basketball team, Aris, for the club’s 110 years of history.

Nick Galis attended the event, hosted by the Consulate General of Greece in Chicago, to commemorate Greek Independence Day. The emblematic “Gangster” of Greek basketball was honored for his significant contributions to sports, alongside a large gathering of expatriates.

Nick Galis’ history in basketball

Nick Galis is from Union City, N.J. and Seton Hall. He averaged 27.5 points as a senior in 1978-79 and was third in the nation behind Lawrence Butler of Idaho State and an Indiana State player named Larry Bird.

The Celtics drafted Galis in the fourth round, 68th overall, in 1979, but he sprained an ankle in training camp, missed time, and was cut before the start of the season. The child of Greek immigrants decided to try Europe.

Nick Galis would play for two teams in Greece, Aris Thessaloniki and Panathinaikos, from 1979 to 1994. Eight Greek League championships, five MVPs there, and several prestigious individual accolades would follow. He was the leading scorer in Euroleague for eight seasons.

The shooting guard was named one of the top 50 players in the history of FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, in a 1991 survey and one of the 50 greatest EuroLeague contributors in 2008.

He was inducted to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2017, and in a four-minute-long acceptance speech, the Greek veteran made a short, emotional retrospect of his career. He said that he was not disappointed when he was drafted for the Boston Celtics but couldn’t secure a contract with the NBA legends, because he was happy to play in his native Greece.

His most touching story involved a woman stopping him during a walk in Thessaloniki. He thought she just wanted his autograph, but she wanted to thank him for leading her addict son away from drugs and into basketball.

An eight-time champion in the Greek Basket League, Nick Galis transformed basketball in his adopted city of Thessaloniki while becoming the superstar athlete every young player tried to emulate.

During his senior season at Seton Hall, the New Jersey native ranked third in the nation with a scoring average of 27.5 points per game. Nick Galis, the son of Greek immigrants, signed with ARIS of Thessaloniki in 1979 after being drafted by the Boston Celtics.

Then, in 1983, the five-time All-European selection helped ARIS run off seven straight league titles. The prolific scorer attacked the interior, confounding the opposing team’s defense and defying the limits of his small frame.

Nick Galis led Greece to a gold medal in the European Championships in 1987 and was named MVP, solidifying his status as an icon that contributed mightily to the popularity of the game.

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