Date of birth: 23 July 1957
Place of birth: New Jersey, USA
Position: Shooting guard
The fact that he was unanimously selected among the first 16 inaugural members of FIBA Hall of Fame and one of the 12 European players on the list is just one of his achievements. And believe it, he has had hundreds of them over the course of his 15-year pro career.
The son of poor immigrants from the beautiful island of Rhodes, it was in New Jersey where he began his athletic career with boxing and managed to conquer the world – it would be a good scenario for a Hollywood movie.
He played four years at the University of Seton Hall and was the third best scorer in the nation in 1979 (behind Lawrence Butler and Hall of Famer Larry Bird) and was selected in the NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.
However, a severe injury at the pre-season training camp forced the Celtics to “cut” him (they preferred Gerald Henderson at the time), a move that Red Auerbach called the biggest mistake of his career some years later. But the Celtics’ mistake turned out to be a divine present for Greek basketball.
Galis came in contact through a priest in Chicago with his home country and that very summer went over to play basketball there. And he is still there now with family living in Thessaloniki.
During his 15-year pro career in Greece, Galis managed the greatest thing that he could do: to change the life of a whole nation and to be named the greatest athlete of all time in team sports.
A real and unbeatable scoring machine, Galis won 15 titles in Greece (eight championships all with Aris, seven Cups – five with Aris and two with Panathinaikos), was named the Greek League scoring champion for 11 consecutive years and for eight seasons – seven of them consecutive – was the European Club Championship scoring champion.
He took home many more individual awards (including MVPs) but most important of all, he made the Greek national team go from an below average team to the European champions. He was the MVP and best scorer of 1987 EuroBasket, leading Greece to the gold medal and two years later to a silver in Zagreb.
“Gangster”, “Gal-man”, “Iron Man” and “Nick the Greek” were just a few of his nicknames for this three-time Mr Europe Basketball and the 10th best athlete in the world in 1987.
Galis was a nightmare for every opponent – he scored more than 45 points in 10 games for the national team and once had 63 in a Greek League contest.
He is still the best scorer of all time (in total points as well as in average) in Greek basketball history. He scored almost 25,000 points in his pro career and close to 30,000 if we take into account his college career at Seton hall.
Following his retirement, Galis made his own basketball camp for kids in Halkidiki but now he only has eyes for his daughter Stella and his wife Eleni.