He is Nick Galis to some and Nikos Galis to millions of others. He’s either an American who became a basketball sensation in Europe or a Greek superstar who happened to be from America. He’s a Jersey kid and Celtics draft pick entering the Hall of Fame thanks to the International committee.
Clarity is needed as he prepares for the Sept. 8 induction in Springfield, Mass., as a member of the Class of 2017. There is no doubt about the rest, though, about being one of the greatest players in FIBA history, the starring role as Greece won the European title in 1987 or how he had such an impact on sports in his adopted homeland that the interior of the arena in Thessaloniki was re-named Nikos Galis Hall.
Nick Galis is from Union City, N.J., and Seton Hall. He averaged 27.5 points as a senior in 1978-79, third in the nation behind Lawrence Butler of Idaho State and an Indiana State player named Larry Bird. The Celtics drafted Galis in the fourth round, 68th overall, in 1979, but sprained an ankle in training camp, missed time, and was cut before the start of the season. The child of Greek immigrants decided to try Europe.
Nikos Galis would play for two teams in Greece, Aris Thessaloniki and Panathinaikos, from 1979 to 1994. Eight Greek League championships, five MVPs there and several prestigious individual accolades would follow, with eight seasons as the leading scorer in Euroleague. The shooting guard was named one of the top 50 players in the history of FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, in a 1991 survey and one of the 50 greatest EuroLeague contributors in 2008.
Among the other Hall inductees and award winners without prominent NBA, ABA or WNBA ties:
Zach Clayton: He played with many of the prominent all-black teams, including the Harlem Globetrotters, the New York Rens and his hometown Philadelphia Panthers while winning a Professional Basketball Tournament championship in 1939 with the Rens and 1953 with the Washington Bears. Clayton is being enshrined from the Early African American Pioneers category.
Robert Hughes: His long list of accomplishments in the Texas high school ranks includes a 1,333-247 record over 47 years, 35 district championships and five state titles. Hughes, elected via the North American committee, has previously been inducted into the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame and the High School Basketball Hall of Fame, along with being named the National High School Coach of the Year in 2003.
Mannie Jackson: The former Hall chairman of the board and namesake of the museum’s Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award enters as a Contributor. He played for the Globetrotters from 1960 to 1966, purchased the team in 1993 and remained as CEO until 2007.
Tom Jernstedt: Former NCAA executive Jernstedt is considered one of the driving forces in the tournament growing into the monster event that is March Madness before retiring in 2010 after 38 years with the governing body of college sports. Elected via the Contributor committee, he had previously been given the Hall’s John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 and was elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Muffet McGraw – She has reached the Sweet 16 on 13 occasions, the Final Four seven times and won the national championship once (2001) since becoming Notre Dame coach in 1987. McGraw is the only person, male or female, to be named consensus Coach of the Year three times and is one of four coaches in Division I history with 800 victories, seven Final Fours and five appearances in the title game.
Bill Self: Elected, as expected, in his first year on the North American ballot, Self is one of six coaches to ever guide three teams to the Elite Eight. He has nine 30-win seasons as part of the current run that also includes the 2008 national title, twice being named Associated Press Coach of the Year and 14 consecutive tournament appearances. He was previously the head coach at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois.
Michael H. Goldberg: He was posthumously named co-winner of the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hall most prestigious recognition outside of enshrinement, for his 37 years as executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association. Goldberg had also been ABA general counsel. He succumbed to cancer in January, a day after the honor was announced.
Donald “Dee” Rowe: The co-winner of the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award coached at the University of Connecticut for eight years and in high school for 13 years before becoming a UConn fundraiser. This is the first time the Bunn Award has been shared.
Bob Hurley: The New Jersey high school coaching legend and father of current college coaches Dan (Rhode Island) and Bobby (Arizona State) is co-winner of the Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award in recognition of a positive impact in the community.
Nancy Lieberman: Already a member of the Hall of Fame as a player at Old Dominion and in various pro leagues, Lieberman has been named a co-winner of the Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award.
Dwyane Wade: The Bulls guard, bound for the Hall as a player five years after he retires, is co-winner of the Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award.
Harvey Araton: Araton chronicled basketball for New York newspapers since the 1970s and had emerged as one of the foremost voices on the game as a reporter and columnist with the New York Times since 1991. He was named winner of the Hall’s Curt Gowdy Media Award for print journalism.
Craig Sager: The popular and gregarious TNT sideline announcer will be posthumously awarded the Curt Gowdy Media Award for electronic work. Sager passed away from leukemia in December.
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