Nikos Galis with Aris, in the late 1980s.
|Born||July 23, 1957|
Union City, New Jersey
|Nationality||Greek / American|
|Listed height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Listed weight||199 lb (90 kg)|
|High school||Union Hill|
(Union City, New Jersey)
|College||Seton Hall (1975–1979)|
|NBA draft||1979 / Round: 4 / Pick: 68th overall|
|Selected by the Boston Celtics|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|FIBA Hall of Fame as player|
Nikolaos Galis (née Georgalis) (Greek: Νικόλαος Γκάλης; born July 23, 1957), commonly known as either Nikos Galis (Greek: Νίκος Γκάλης), or Nick Galis, is a retired Greek professional basketball player. He was named one of FIBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1991, is an inaugural member of the FIBA Hall of Fame and was chosen as one of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors in 2008. 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.[a] In 2017, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Galis played the point guard position during his college basketball years at Seton Hall University, but turned into a shooting guard as a professional. He spent most of his career in Aris, before having a late stint with Panathinaikos. He is the EuroLeague's all-time leader in points per game (counting both FIBA Europe and Euroleague Basketball Company era games 1958 season–present), leading the competition in scoring eight times. In the premier European club scene, he reached the EuroLeague Final Four on four occasions, three consecutive times with Aris (1988, 1989, and 1990), and another one with Panathinaikos (1994). An eight-time Greek league champion, Galis is the Greek Championship's unofficial all-time leading scorer, in both career points scored and career scoring average, counting all league formats (since the 1963–64 season, official stats are recognized since the 1992–93 season).
Galis led the senior Greek national team to a EuroBasket gold medal in 1987, as well as to a EuroBasket silver medal in 1989, earning the tournament MVP honor in 1987, and being elected to the All-EuroBasket Team four times. Among his myriad accomplishments, he holds the EuroBasket record for highest career scoring average (31.2 points per game), and was the leading scorer of four EuroBasket tournaments in 1983, 1987, 1989, and 1991. In addition to that, he holds the FIBA World Championship/Cup record for highest career scoring average (33.5 points per game), as well as for most points ever scored in a single tournament, which he set at the 1986 FIBA World Championship. Following the stunning success of the EuroBasket title in 1987, he won the Mr. Europa Player of the Year and the Euroscar awards the same year.
Nicknamed "Iron Man", "Nick The Greek", and "The Gangster", Galis is highly revered in Greece, where he is considered by many to be the greatest national athlete the country has ever seen. His years at Aris lifted Greek basketball from relative obscurity, to global power status, with Galis being the figure that eventually inspired thousands of Greeks to take up the game.
Early life and high school
Galis was born in Union City, New Jersey. The child of a poor immigrant family, from the Greek islands of Rhodes and Nisyros, Galis took up boxing in his early years, after his father, George Georgalis, who had also been a boxer in his youth. He was later persuaded to give up boxing by his mother, Stella Georgalis, who was terrified after each time that her son would return home from boxing training with a new facial injury. As a result, Galis started playing the sport of basketball instead of boxing. He attended Union Hill High School, in Union City, where he also played high school basketball.
After high school, Galis enrolled at Seton Hall University, where he played college basketball as a member of the Seton Hall Pirates. In his senior season, Galis saw his scoring average reach 27.5 points per game, which was third in the nation, behind Idaho State's Lawrence Butler (30.1 points per game) and Indiana State's Larry Bird (28.6 points per game), including a 48-point outburst against the University of Santa Clara.
Also in his senior year of college, Galis won the Haggerty Award (the New York City metro area's best player award), and the Eastern College Athletic Conference Player of the Year award. The same year, he also played in the Pizza Hut All-American game, alongside Bird and Vinnie Johnson. During his 4-year college career, Galis played in a total of 107 games and scored 1,651 points, for a career scoring average of 15.4 points per game.
Galis' head coach at Seton Hall, Billy Raftery, would later state that Galis was the best player he ever coached. While at Seton Hall, Galis was a good friend and roommate of Italian-American professional basketball player Dan Callandrillo. Galis was later inducted into the Seton Hall Athletic Hall of Fame, in 1991.
|Season||Team||Competition||Games Played||Field Goal%||Free Throw%||Rebounds||Assists||Points|
After 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. Galis was eventually selected by the Boston Celtics in the 4th round of the 1979 NBA Draft, 68th overall. Due to a severe ankle injury that Galis suffered during the Celtics preseason training camp of the 1979–80 season, the franchise was no longer interested in offering him a contract because Gerald Henderson had taken his place on the team, and his injury would keep him out for the foreseeable future.
Galis then decided to pursue a professional career in Greece's top-tier level Basket League. Later, while still playing in Greece, he would be offered NBA contracts by the Celtics and the New Jersey Nets. However, he turned the offers down, because at the time, and until 1989, FIBA did not have professional status, and consequently did not allow NBA players to compete at the national team level. Since playing with the senior Greek national team meant so much to him, he stayed in Greece. Celtics then-president Red Auerbach later said that the single biggest mistake he ever made in his career was not keeping Galis.
After suffering an ankle injury in the Boston Celtics 1979–80 preseason training camp, which prevented him from receiving a contract with the Celtics, Galis made the move across the Atlantic, and signed to play with Aris of Thessaloniki, Greece, in 1979. Panathinaikos and Olympiacos had also shown some interest in signing the newcomer, but it was Aris' interest that was the most persuasive. His move to the country would eventually help Greek club basketball to reach a level of popularity that had never been previously imagined.
Averaging more than 30 points per game every season, Galis was the indisputable leader of Aris. While playing alongside other great players at Aris such as Panagiotis Giannakis and Slobodan Subotić (who was known in Greece as Lefteris Soumpotits), Galis won 8 Greek League championships (7 of them consecutively, and 3 undefeated, in the years 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991), 6 Greek Cups (4 of them consecutively, in the years 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1992), and led Aris to 3 consecutive appearances at the FIBA European Champions' Cup (now called EuroLeague) Final Four ('88, '89, and '90). In the one disappointment of an otherwise glittering career with Aris, all three of the FIBA European Champions' Cup Final Four appearances ended in defeat in the semifinals, thus depriving Galis of the opportunity to shine all the way on Europe's biggest club stage, at the FIBA European Champions' Cup Finals. The team's performances and general standard of play, however, won the hearts of most basketball fans in Greece. Indeed, cinemas and theaters in Greece would often reduce their admission prices on Thursday evenings, when Aris was playing games, as large segments of the country settled down to watch them on television.
After a disappointing season in 1991–92, Galis was forced to leave Aris. The new management of the team, and the fact that the club was in decline, were the main causes for his departure. Galis, who adored the city of Thessaloniki, had originally insisted on remaining in the club and playing for the team, as he believed that he still had a lot to offer the club. In one of his final European Champions' Cup games for Aris, in early-1992, Galis rolled back the years, at the age of 35, to score 46 points (15/18, 8/14, 5/6) in a narrow defeat to Phillips Milan. Also that season, in a Greek league match against Panionios, Galis scored 48 points on 12/13, 15/18, 2/3.
Galis moved to Athens in the summer of 1992, to play with Panathinaikos, and he was the player who then led the "Greens" to a club rebirth, after it had suffered through a long drought period, during which the historical team remained without titles. The previous season (1991–92) had been particularly disappointing for the club, with the team finishing eighth in the Greek league. As the team's captain, Galis inspired the young players of Panathinaikos, such as Fragiskos Alvertis and Nikos Oikonomou, and gradually brought back hope to the team's fans. So much so, as to the point that the club's then home arena, Glyfada Indoor Hall, was always overcrowded. In that season (1992–93), Panathinaikos finished second in the Greek league, and won the Greek Cup, which was the seventh Greek Cup title for Galis.
The following season (1993–94), Galis was the FIBA European League (now called EuroLeague) Top Scorer averaging 23.8 points per game in 21 games, and passer, averaging 4.7 assists per game, in 21 games. In the decisive game 3 of the EuroLeague quarterfinals, against the reigning FIBA European League champions, Limoges, Galis truly led Panathinaikos into a new club era, with their qualification to the 1994 FIBA European League Final Four, by scoring 30 points on 75% field goal shooting in the game. The "Greens" eventually finished in 3rd place in the FIBA European League that season, after losing in the semifinal, but it was still a success they had never reached before. Galis scored 30 points in the third place game against FC Barcelona, leading all scorers in the game.
In his third season in Panthinaikos (1994–95), Galis teamed up with Panagiotis Giannakis and Žarko Paspalj, to make a strong effort to win the FIBA European League. Galis was the player who led Panathinaikos to the Top 16 group, as he prevented the elimination of Panathinaikos by Budivelnik Kiev, with a team-high 23 points in the decisive second-leg victory. He was also the leader of the team in the Greek Cup win against Olympiacos, at Sporting Sports Arena. But Galis' career controversially ended on October 18, 1994, a few games after the start of the Greek League 1994–95 season. Kostas Politis, Panathinaikos' head coach at the time, chose not to include Galis in the starting line-up of a Greek League game against Ambelokipi. Galis left the court, and never again returned to playing action. His last game in professional basketball, was as a player of Panathinaikos, in a game against AO Dafni, on October 12, 1994. In the game, Galis scored 8 points in 35 minutes of playing time, as his team won in a blowout, 82–60.
Career pro club statistics
|Competition||Games Played||Points Scored||Scoring Average||Ref.|
|FIBA EuroLeague (1st Tier)
FIBA Korać Cup (3rd Tier)
Greek League season by season scoring stats
- (Counting regular season only)
|Season||Competition||Games Played||Points Scored||Scoring Average||Club|
National team career
On 20 November 1983, while playing in an exhibition game at the Demetria Tournament '83, with the senior Greek national basketball team, against the North Carolina Tar Heels, at Alexandreio Melathron, Greece's shooting guard Galis, while being guarded by North Carolina's shooting guard, Michael Jordan, scored 24 points during the game.
Galis next led the Greek national team to the EuroBasket 1987 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 EuroBasket 1989, averaging 35.6 points per game. Galis is most remembered from that tournament, for a stunning effort against the Soviet team led by Marčiulionis, and its other star player, Arvydas Sabonis, in the semifinal game. He scored 45 out of his team's 81 total points in a dramatic, last-gasp 81–80 victory. The Greek team then settled for a second-place finish, after losing against the ever-dominant Yugoslavian national basketball team in the tournament's final.
With the senior men's Greek national team, Galis averaged 33.3 points per game at the EuroBasket 1983, 33.5 points per game at the 1986 FIBA World Championship, 37.0 points per game at the EuroBasket 1987, 35.6 points per game at the EuroBasket 1989, and 32.4 points per game at the EuroBasket 1991. He won the gold medal at the EuroBasket 1987, and the silver medal at the EuroBasket 1989. He was the leading scorer of the EuroBasket four times, was a four-time All-EuroBasket Team member, and he was named the MVP of the EuroBasket 1987.
He was also the leading scorer of the 1986 FIBA World Championship, where he led all players in scoring average, with 33.5 points per game. In that tournament, he had a 53-point outburst against the Panamanian national basketball team. In total, Galis played in 168 games with the senior Greek national team, in which he scored a total of 5,129 points, for a scoring average of 30.5 points per game.
Greek senior national team career statistics
|Competition||Games Played||Points Scored||Scoring Average||Ref.|
|FIBA International Competitions
(Greek National Team)
Scoring statistics with the senior Greek National Team in FIBA rules games
|Tournament||Games Played||Points Scored||Scoring Average|
|1980 Olympics Qualification|
|FIBA International Tournament (1980–89)|
|EuroBasket 1981 Qualification|
|1982 Balkan Games|
|EuroBasket 1983 Qualification|
|1984 Olympics Qualification|
|EuroBasket 1985 Qualification|
|1984 Balkan Games|
|1986 FIBA World Championship Qualification|
|1986 Acropolis International Tournament|
|1986 FIBA World Championship|
|1986 Balkan Games|
|1987 Acropolis International Tournament|
|1988 Olympics Qualification|
|EuroBasket 1989 Qualification|
|1989 Acropolis International Tournament|
|1990 Acropolis International Tournament|
|EuroBasket 1991 Qualification|
|1991 Acropolis International Tournament|
Galis' top 10 scoring FIBA rules games with the senior Greek National Team
|Points Scored||Date||Opponents||Final Game Score||Tournament|
|7/5/1986||Panama||110–81||1986 FIBA World Championship|
|9/10/1984||Poland||88–89||EuroBasket 1985 Qualification|
|7/20/1986||China||111–112||1986 FIBA World Championship|
|1/4/1981||Finland||101–92||FIBA International Tournament|
|11/29/1984||Bulgaria||91–84||1986 FIBA World Championship Qualification|
|5/23/1982||Belgium||97–72||EuroBasket 1983 Qualification|
|6/20/1986||Netherlands||104–88||1986 Acropolis International Tournament|
|11/25/1989||Romania||97–77||EuroBasket 1991 Qualification|
|6/24/1989||Soviet Union||81–80||EuroBasket 1989|
Highest scoring single games by competition
|53 points||FIBA World Cup||Greece
|46 points||FIBA EuroBasket||Greece
|50 points||FIBA EuroLeague
|57 points||FIBA Korać Cup
Reyer Venezia Mestre
|62 points||Greek League||Ionikos Nikaias
|52 points||Greek Cup||Aris
|48 points||NCAA Division I||Seton Hall Pirates
Santa Clara Broncos
It has been noted that Galis was not only a legendary scorer, but that he was also a great play maker and passer. The majority of his points scored came inside the paint, due to his penetrating ability. Galis' mid-range jumper was one of his biggest offensive weapons, being able to consistently pull it off under pressure. His post game was excellent, as he used his strength and leaping ability to counter his lack of height. 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 EuroBasket 1987, he was never once substituted out of any game after the second day of the competition, completing 7 games in 9 days.
Since his official retirement on September 29, 1995, and up until early 2006, Galis was the owner of a summer basketball camp in Chalkidiki, Greece. The basketball camp is listed at the Athens Stock Exchange. 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, 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 Eurobasket.com website's European Basketball Hall of Fame, inducted as a player. Galis is married to Eleni Panagiotou, and he has one daughter, named Stella.
In May 2013, his former club team Aris, renamed their home arena to Nick Galis Hall, organized a celebration of Galis' life and career, and retired his number 6 Aris jersey. The event was attended by many of his teammates and opponents from the 1980s and 1990s. Attendees included Greek legends such as the majority of the 1987 EuroBasket gold medal winning team, as well as international stars who played against Galis over the years, such as Dino Rađja, Jordi Villacampa, and Doron Jamchi.
On April 1, 2017, it was announced that Galis will be inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the 2017 class. Galis was accepted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 9, 2017. He became one of the very few basketball players from around the world, that joined the Hall of Fame, without having ever played in the NBA. On June 14, 2016, exactly 29 years after Greece won the EuroBasket in 1987, the biggest basketball arena in Greece, OAKA Olympic Indoor Hall was named 'Nikos Galis' in his honour.
Quotes about Galis
"If I'm the devil's son, then Galis is the devil himself.", Dražen Petrović
"If Galis wants to score, he will score no matter who's defending him.", Arvydas Sabonis
"I never thought that there was such a good offensive player in Europe, and especially in Greece.", Michael Jordan
"I've seen Galis do things that I have seen neither Lakers nor Celtics do.", Bob McAdoo
"Galis is the player of the 21st century.", Alexander Gomelsky
"I had given specific instructions on how to defend against the other 4 players. As for Nikos, we just had to sit down and pray!", Vojcek Kricovski, CSKA Moscow coach.
Awards and accomplishments
- Haggerty Award (New York Metro Area Player of the Year): 1979
- ECAC Player of the Year: 1979
- Member of the Seton Hall Athletic Hall of Fame: 1991
- 8× Greek League Champion: 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
- 7× Greek Cup Winner: 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993
(In total, he won 15 trophies in his pro club career as a player.)
Personal awards and achievements:
- 11× Greek League Top Scorer: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
- 8× FIBA EuroLeague Top Scorer: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994
- Mediterranean Player of the Year: 1987
- Euroscar European Player of the Year: 1987
- Mr. Europa European Player of the Year: 1987
- World's 10th Best Athlete (a vote that included all sports and all countries): 1987
- 5× Greek League MVP: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992
- 5× Greek League Finals MVP: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
- 5× Greek Cup Finals Top Scorer: 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993
- 4× Greek League Assist Leader: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
- EuroLeague Assist Leader: 1994
- Greek Cup all-time scoring leader: 1,935 points (35.2 ppg)
- Greek League unofficial all-time leading scorer (since the 1963–64 season): 12,714 points (33.0 ppg)
- FIBA EuroLeague Final Four all-time scoring leader: 231 points
- FIBA EuroLeague All-Final Four Team: (1994)
- He was named one of FIBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1991.
- Member of the Eurobasket.com website's European Hall of Fame
- Member of the FIBA Hall of Fame: 2007
- 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors: 2008
- No. 6 retired by Aris: 2013
- Member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: 2017
- Along with Panagiotis Giannakis, he led Aris Thessaloniki to an 80-game winning streak in the Greek League, in the 1980s.
- His personal scoring record in one game was 62 points, achieved in a Greek League game in 1981 (Aris Thessaloniki vs. Ionikos Nikaias). However, in the same game, Ionikos' superstar, Panagiotis Giannakis, who would later go on to become Galis' teammate on Aris, scored 73 points.
- Also in 1981, he accomplished his career scoring high in a European continental competition, as he scored 57 points against Pallacanestro Venezia, during the 1981 Korać Cup.
- His high scoring game in the Greek Cup was 52 points against Panellinios Athens, in the 1987 cup final.
- In 1988, he scored his career high in points in the old FIBA Champions' Cup (now called the EuroLeague), as he scored 50 points in a game against Tracer Milano.
- In 1993, while playing in the Greek League with Panathinaikos Athens, in a revenge game against his former team Aris Thessaloniki, he had a game for the ages. Galis shot 13/13 from the field.
Greek National Team
- In 168 FIBA rules games played with the senior Greek national basketball team, he averaged 30.5 points per game.
- Galis was the top scorer in every major European and world international competition that he participated in from 1983 onwards, the EuroBasket 1983, the 1986 FIBA World Championship, the EuroBasket 1987, the EuroBasket 1989, and the EuroBasket 1991.
- At the 1986 FIBA World Championship, he scored 53 points in a game against the Panamanian national basketball team.
- In the EuroBasket 1987 final, he scored 40 points against the Soviet Union national basketball team.
- In the EuroBasket 1989 semifinal, he scored 45 points against the Soviet Union national basketball team.
- 1980 Balkan Games: Gold
- 1986 Balkan Games: Gold
- 1986 FIBA World Championship Top Scorer: 1986 (33.5 ppg)
- EuroBasket 1983: All-Tournament Team
- EuroBasket 1987: Gold
- EuroBasket 1987: All-Tournament Team
- EuroBasket 1987: Most Valuable Player
- EuroBasket 1989: Silver
- EuroBasket 1989: All-Tournament Team
- EuroBasket 1991: All-Tournament Team
- 4× EuroBasket Top Scorer: 1983 (33.3 ppg), 1987 (37.0 ppg), 1989 (35.6 ppg), 1991 (32.4 ppg)
- Senior Greek National Basketball Team 2nd all-time scoring leader: 5,129 points (30.5 ppg) in official games
- Arbel, Y. , "Iron Man Galis", November 08, 2006, FIBA Europe official website.
- Eurobasket.com, website about basketball.
- BASKET ARIS - Unofficial fan site dedicated to ARIS B.C.
- Hellenic Basketball Federation official website.
- FIBA Europe official website.
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- Nikos Galis Aris
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nikos Galis.|
- Twitter Account (in Greek)
- NBA Draft Profile
- Nikos Galis FIBA Hall of Fame Profile
- Euroleague.net 50 Greatest Contributors
- Galis FIBA Europe Profile
- FIBAEurope.com Galis Story
- Interbasket.net Galis Profile
- Hellenic Federation Profile (in Greek)
- Nick Galis Unofficial Website
- GrHomeBoy.com Galis Inducted into FIBA Hall of Fame
- Books.Google.com Seton Hall Pirates Nick Galis
- SHUPPirates.com Seton Hall - Galis
- Euroleague.net A scoring machine
- Τα “κανόνια” του ελληνικού Πρωταθλήματος: Νίκος Γκάλης (in Greek)