Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Greece and there is a huge following for Greek basketball throughout Europe. The men’s basketball team has won numerous titles over the years, and their biggest win was in 2010 when they beat Canada 123-49.
There have been a number of successful Greek basketball players who have made it to the NBA over the years. Playing in the NBA is the ultimate dream for many Greek players, who have grown up over the years watching legends, such as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and many others. Players such as these have been the benchmark for fans and players alike all over the world, with many people placing bets on games with their favorite casino online and trying to make a few dollars at the same time.
One of the most recent Greek exports to the NBA was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, but who started his playing career down in the third division of Greek basketball playing for Filathlitikos, who are based in the suburbs of Athens.
However, before the arrival of Giannis in the NBA, there were a number of other prominent Greek players who made the move, and we will take a look at some of them below.
Lewis, who was also known as Lou, played for the Boston Celtics, and was in the NBA from 1956 until 1959. He was born in Massachusetts and played college basketball under the legendary coach Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky.
Lou was the first Greek to be selected in the NBA draft in 1953 and won two championships in 1957 and 1959. Unfortunately, a serious back injury cut his playing career short.
Antonis was a highly regarded youth player in his native Greece and participated in the Nike Hoop Summit All World team in 1998 and 1999. After being selected in the 2001 NBA draft, he joined the Vancouver Grizzlies and played for them for 28 games during the 2001-2002 season.
His distance shot skills were excellent, as were his basketball skills in general, though he only managed to play for a single season in the NBA.
Efthimis played for many years in Greece and his first professional contract was with PAOK Thessaloniki, who are based in Northern Greece. After that, he moved to Spain and was an important player for Barcelona Bàsquet, who he played for between 1997 and 2002.
Efthimis was selected in the NBA draft of 1996 by the Denver Nuggets, while still playing for PAOK Thessaloniki. He didn’t want to move to the NBA at that time, but eventually did in 2002 and played for the Philadelphia 76ers. He played a total of 35 games for the club between 2002 – 2003, and described his achievement at playing in the NBA as his dreams coming true.
Vasilis is one of the most famous basketball players in Greece and played for a number of Greek teams in Athens including Maroussi between 2001 – 2005, and a single season for Panathinaikos between 2005-2006. In 2006, he made the move to the NBA and joined the Houston Rockets and played for them in the 2006-2007 season, having a successful season.
He then moved back to Greece in 2007 and played again for Panathinaikos, before making the switch to local rivals Olympiacos, with whom he is still playing for today.
Standing at 7ft 1, Andreas was a dominating presence on the basketball court and played for a number of Greek teams, such as Panathinaikos, Peristeri Athens and AEK Athens from 1997 until 2006. He finally achieved his dream of moving to the NBA in 2006 where he joined the Seattle Supersonics and played 13 games for them.
Andreas was actually selected by the Detroit Pistons in the 2003 NBA draft and played for the Roanoke Dazzle between 2005 – 2006, followed by some game time with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds during 2006.
Though there has been a number of Greek players making it to the NBA, none has been more successful than Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has been playing there since 2013. If you are a fan of basketball, then you would know all about Giannis, even if you spend a lot of time in front of your computer playing sporting games or the book of dead.
Many Greek players in the NBA usually play for a season or two and then move on – some to other clubs in the lower leagues, while some of them will return back to Greece.
This is not to say that they were failures. To even make it to the NBA shows that they were great players and were highly sought after. The NBA is the pinnacle for all basketball players around the world and these Greeks, who managed to make it there are, all highly respected and loved back in their native Greece.