5. Nick Galis-

Born on July 23rd 1957, just 2 months after The Celtics' first NBA Title, Nikos Galis was born in New Jersey. The son of two Greek immigrants Galis took to basketball after being forced away from boxing by his mother, who was horrified by the injuries her son had sustained. Nick attended Union Hill High School in Union City, New Jersey.

After high school Galis enrolled at Seton Hall University. Nick played for The Pirates for 4 seasons and finished with career averages of 20 pts, 2.3 reb, 3.7 ast. He also shot 50% from the field and 81% from the free throw line. In his senior year (1979) Galis ranked 3rd in the nation with 27.5 points per game... right behind Larry Bird with 28.6. Nick was also awarded the Haggery Award, other winners include Satch Sanders and Chris Mullen.

Following his 4 year college career Nick hired an agent and entered the 1979 NBA Draft. Galis didn't work out for a single team but ended up being picked in the 4th round by The Boston Celtics. In Training Camp Nick played alongside fellow rookie Larry Bird. He showed promise up until severely injuring his ankle and losing his spot to Gerald Henderson. Out for the foreseeable future, Boston elected not to sign their 4th round pick.

After being turned away by Boston Galis focused his sights on Greece's A1 League. Nick would go on to dominate in Europe, leading The Greek League in scoring for an entire decade (81-91), winning the Greek MVP 4 times (88-91), winning eight Championhips in 9 years, winning 7 Greek Cups, and repeatedly tearing up FIBA's International Basketball tournaments. Galis' team "Aris B.C." at one point won 81 games in a row between 85-88. Basically while Larry Bird and Magic were dominating in The U.S. Nick Galis was dominating by himself in Europe.

Galis is rumored to have been offered contracts by The Celtics and Nets but turned them down because FIBA, at the time, didn't have professional status. Meaning that becoming a professional in America would make him ineligible to play for the Greek National Team.

Nick Galis may not have been the same playing in The NBA that he was in Greece, there's obviously no way to tell, but if Galis was half as good as he was over there... The 80's could have been even greater.

In 1979-80 The Boston Celtics started Archibald and Chris Ford as their backcourt with rookie Gerald Henderson coming off the bench. Halfway through the season they would sign veteran "Pistol" Pete Maravich to carry backup SG duties. In hindsight they probably should have signed Nikos Galis to a 1 year deal and let him heal his ankle, but as usual hindsight is always 20/20.

Red Auerbach was later quoted as saying that not signing Nikos Galis was the single biggest mistake in his legendary career.

Galis playing alongside Larry Bird in a College All-Star Game

Galis scoring 53 for the Greek National Team

34 year old Galis playing an Exhibition with Toni Kukoc, and former Celtic Dino Radja.

#4: Bruce Bown

Jesse Dampolo 10/09/2011 10:00:00 AM Edit
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21 Responses so far.

  1. tb727 says:

    This was really well done!

  2. tb727 says:

    Gerald Henderson started on the 84 team and Chris Ford on the 81 teams that won it all. I wonder if this guy could've beaten both out...

  3. I think him and Gerald could have made that spot as rookies, but they wouldn't have had to pick up Pistol Pete.

    Tiny, Galis, Bird, McHale, Parish? 3 of those guys have had 50+ point games, probably 4... i can't find Tiny's career high but he did lead the league in scoring.

  4. tb727 says:

    Hmmm. Remember, Gerald gets traded for the Bias pick because Red has confidence in Ainge in 84-85. If Galis sticks and could play, maybe they trade him instead of Gerald. I think Gerald is a better player than Sichting was, although there may have been controversy whether Ainge or Gerald should start in 85 or 86. Still the 85 Celts with Henderson or Galis as a key bench player, maybe it puts them over the top.

    If I had to predict, without ever seeing Galis play:

    Ainge>Henderson or Galis>Sichting>Carlisle

    Remember ML Carr I feel was a full blown corpse by 85.

  5. Good point. If Galis plays here then Henderson never get's enough minutes to build that kind of trade value.

  6. Peter Stramos says:

    Galis should be in the HOF already too, i grew up following his career overseas. He’s twice the player Sabonis and Kukoc were yet he get’s not praise.

  7. JR says:

    What a great post Jesse. I'm embarrassed I had never heard of Galis. The "Red Auerbach was later quoted as saying that not signing Nikos Galis was the single biggest mistake in his legendary career," line is huge.

    I know who #1 will be, but I'm excited to see who #'s 2-4 will be. Again great post Jesse.

  8. tb727 says:

    I'm with JR on this too, as I never heard of him either. He's listed as 6'0 and unless your name's Monta Ellis, playing 2 guard at that height is not easy, especially back then when illegal defenses were different. When they play the Flakers I guess he's defending Scott or the Sixers he's guarding Toney? That's a tough matchup for a guy giving up that much size.

    And I suppose he could slide over and defend Cheeks but then who would defend Magic if DJ is forced to play Scott?

    Then again Scott's not a postup guy, and the Flakers do put the sieve Derek Fisher on Ray Allen today.

    I'm just talking to myself here and wondering how it would've played out.

    Btw this is an awesome subject to write on!

  9. @tb727 Also think about the 80's team, if your going to post up an opposing teams PG/SG it's not like it is today. Teams didn't have 3PT shooting bigs to stretch the floor. If you have a guard in the post who is preventing the big from just floating down there on the help?

  10. tb727 says:

    Ah that's right Jesse. Thanks Bill Laimbeer for making "stretch big men" fashionable.

    Still I think having big guys that play inside is an enormous advantage today. Unfortunately there's just not many big guys that are skilled. And by big I mean 6'11+, not Amare Stoudemire masquerading as a center or Dwight Howard who isn't even taller than Kevin McHale. It's why the Flakers with Gasol and Bynum should probably be favored again to win it all.

    Thanks again Chris Wallace, for that wonderful "even" trade.

  11. You have to respect the Lakers for their team though, size-wise they're very similar to the 80's Celtics. Odom/Artest, Gasol, and Bynum are a HUGE front court trio.

    Back to you the point. If DJ was still acquired that team would be perfect. DJ could guard the taller more offensive guard, Galis could guard the smaller more perimeter oriented guard.

  12. Anonymous says:


  13. Anonymous says:

    ARIS ACAB!!!

  14. Stavros says:

    If you want to watch what type of player he was take a look here in some videos i post
    Galis only 6'0 using his penetrating ability and leaping. very good basketball IQ, sharp passer and basketball ethic

    1) 1987. European championship final vs USSR. It is said that was the 1st time a man won a tournament

    2) 1989 With Aris team vs Paok (the rivals). The center of Paok was the best blocker in Europe

    3) With Aris team vs Tracer Milan (european champions). Bob McAdoo (NBA mvp) and D'Antony played for Tracer

    4) With Aris team vs Barcelona (first win of a greek team in Spain)

  15. Anonymous says:

    Galis would have been a top NBA guard, no doubt about it. In 1987 Greece were underdogs and beat a powerful Russia in the finals thanks to Galis...he scored like 42 points in the final. In addition Galis pretty much manhandled Yugoslavia, which had the best players at the time (Petrovic, Divac, Rada, Kukoc) to get to the finals. In addition, NC and Jordan came to Greece to play against Galis and he scored something like 40-50 points on Jordan. Though we will never know how things would really have been for him in the NBA, YouTube has plenty of videos to make us wonder!

  16. Anonymous says:

    If Oscar, Jerry, Magic, Larry and maybe a few others are the top Guards ever, Nick Galis is close to them. I am Greek and as usually the Greek sport authorities never really promoted him abroad and especially in the USA! Even recently when he was a candidate for the HOF, no real effort was put by Greece to support him. A lot of nobody's on and off the court made fortunes and career's because of Nick. He will always be a national hero in the minds and hearts of the average Greek. An excellent professional with a killer instinct, imo much better than Henderson not to mention a bunch of modern NBA Americans and International guards, who wouldn't play in any NBA era except today's! We look at them and lough with my friends and our kids, and at the same time we feel sad that a player like Nick Galis never made the trip to the NBA. As Oscar Robertson said, players should focus on getting the job done, and Nick did exactly that!!! Better than any one in Europe at least. Surrounded by a group a just good, mediocre and bad players he went up against the best in Europe and defeated them. He scored almost a total of 100 points in the two games against the Soviet Union ( European Final 87, European Final 89) with Sabonis (89) Marculionis (87,89) and many others. This is the same Soviet team that defeated the USA 89 Olympic Team ( Robinson, Manning, Smith etc) and produced a number of future NBA players. We are lucky that he decided to stay in Greece and we will always be grateful for what he offered to this country as an individual and as an athlete.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for typing error. European Semi final 89, USA 88 Seoul Korea Olympic Team

  18. Anonymous says:

    "This guy"?? Ignorance knows no limits... do your research first... then comment

  19. Anonymous says:

    This palyer marked a whole generation here in Greece.Our Michael Jordan who led us in the top of the Europe in 1987.Niko Efxaristoume

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Nick (the Greek) Galis!
    For all!
    he had the nickname Gangster!!!

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