Theodoros Papaloukas would have wanted to end his career on a high. The moment CSKA Moscow claimed their fourth VTB title; he knew the time was right to call it a day.
Maybe, the legendary Greek guard would have ended his playing days if CSKA won the Euroleague crown in London last month. His old club Olympiacos perhaps accelerated his time on court for an extra four weeks, who knows. All that is known is that Papaloukas has left a champion, not just for this season, but with European basketball fans everywhere. The final image of the 36-year-old was him holding the VTB League trophy with his team-mates, covered in confetti and a smile on his face (picture above). The perfect end.
It all started for a fresh-faced Papaloukas in 1995 when he suited up for his local Athens side Abelokipi but after nine games moved along to Dafni, another suburb of Athens before he was scouted and signed for Olympiacos.
For Papaloukas, the draw of CSKA Moscow – an already well-established European powerhouse was too irresistible to turn down and in the summer of 2002, moved to the Russian capital and ended up spending six glorious and successful seasons there. In that timespan, he had won the 2006 and 2008 Euroleague title, was named the 2006 Final Four MVP, the 2007 regular season MVP plus numerous first and second team appearances.
Last month’s cameo appearance in London for CSKA marked the ninth time that Papaloukas had played in a Final Four event, no other player has made more appearances.
He also helped Greece win the 2005 Eurobasket gold medal along with silver at the 2006 world championships in Japan.
A proud Greek, Papaloukas was always honoured to represent his country and despite a career with Olympiacos, a team he loved to play for and a team where he felt at home because of the tremendous fan support, his real home was outside of Greece, roughly 1,800 miles away in Moscow. Papaloukas belonged with CSKA; there was no denying it. And deep down, if asked the question where would you have wanted to end your playing career, safe bets would have been exactly where he did end it: In the red and blue of CSKA Moscow.
Best of Papaloukas (2011-12 season)