Archive Greek videos, pics and articles
Posted 16 June 2010 - 06:50 PM
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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:34 PM
NBA star Byron Scott and PAO vice-president over 10 years ago.
With Stojko Vrankovioc
Posted 08 November 2010 - 03:56 PM
Posted 25 November 2010 - 10:55 AM
Posted 23 May 2011 - 11:43 PM
Both teams squad were packed with stars back then as it was the Golden Age of A1, which was by far the best league of the world, behind NBA.
Just look at some of the players: Radja, Scott, Christdoulou, Alvertis, Stojakovic, Shackleford, McRae and several Greek and European internationals.
Posted 22 July 2011 - 06:41 PM
It was. Partial Payment: Vranes ended up with a hotel room, a beat-up car, and a paycheck that almost never arrived on time. His money was supposed to be regularly and wholly loaded into a Swiss bank account. Instead, it arrived at his home in fractions of the promised amounts.
"The first time I was ever paid, the owner, Mikas Psomiades, took me into a back alley and handed me a cloth banana sack with bananas on the top and U.S. dollars hidden underneath," Vranes says. "He said dollars were tough to get over there. I found out later, the money was dirty. They guy turned out to be a criminal." He certainly stole from his American player.
"I got about $200,000 of the $500,000 that was promised me that year," Vranes says. "The house never materialized, neither did the Mercedes. I did get an apartment -- but the lights and power kept getting turned off because they were never paid for. The American school sent my kids home because the promised tuition was never paid by the team owner. Everything was crumbling."
Everything but Vranes' play. He was voted the Greek League's foreign player of the year. He flourished in difficult surroundings and circumstances, including gyms where steel cages were erected around the court to keep rowdy spectators from spilling onto the court.
"If anyone climbed up over the fence, security people sprayed them down with a fire hose," he says. "It was crazy."
Worse were unsettling irregularities. The second time AEK played a powerful club team from the old USSR that included Arvydas Sabonis, now with the Portland Trail Blazers, this time in Athens, in the run-up to the European Cup, the USSR club capitulated to Vranes' team, losing that game because, as he puts it, "they were paid off by our owner to let us win."
Adds Vranes: "We were told before the game even started that we were going to win. The outcome of the game was totally rigged. It was a huge charade, put on because our owner wanted the fans to see that we could beat such a good team. It was a joke."
Vranes, who played center for AEK, dropped 38 points on Sabonis that night. "Arvydas was a bad actor," he says. The ruse apparently did not help buoy the profits of the Athens club. Players went on being paid in skittish increments, depending on the number of paying customers at games.
Near the end of that first season, with a big rivalry game coming up against another club from Athens, Vranes pulled a power play on his team's owner, refusing to practice and play until he was paid in full, according to the terms of his contract.
Meanwhile, he went to the U.S. Embassy in Athens and revealed the details of what he knew about his team owner's underhanded dealings to authorities there. They checked out his background and confirmed and concurred, Vranes says, that the owner was a "bad character."
They also made arrangements for Vranes to get a diplomatic passport, so he could get out of Greece without split-stepping through land mines that could make his departure difficult. In the days leading up to the rivalry game, the AEK owner threw a party for Vranes, attempting to persuade him into staying and playing for his team, and offering him a bag full of cash, if he would.
Vranes counted $2,000 in the bag, far short of what he was owed. Despite the owner'spleadings, he said, "No pay, no play." It was vintage Vranes, who in competitive situations was known to be not just stubborn, but nearly immovable. He once got into some rough play with Karl Malone during a summer pro-am league in Utah. Malone 'bowed Vranes, who returned the favor. They threw the ball back and forth and grabbed one another by the neck.
"The two of them were ready to punch each other, but Danny never backed down for a second," Judkins says. "He goes after things really hard. If you push the wrong button with him, he can be a hothead." His Greek owner pushed the wrong button.
Two days before he was to leave the country, Vranes was meeting with a Greek-American friend named Constantino in the friend's office, when a group of men barged into the office and kidnapped Constantino. "Next thing, I'm getting phone calls, saying, 'If you don't play, you'll never see your friend again,' " Vranes says. " 'If you don't play, he'll end up in a body bag.'
"I told them I would play, if I saw Constantino alive and well at the game." Vranes, indeed, saw his friend, so he played, leading AEK to a victory. The next day, he flew out of the country and never looked back -- except hoping to receive $70,000 in cash from a paid smuggler who was supposed to sneak the U.S. dollars, saved from the payments Vranes actually did receive, into a Swiss bank account.
The money never arrived.
Posted 29 July 2011 - 09:50 PM
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Posted 15 April 2012 - 10:43 PM