Vasileios Spanoulis (in ) (b. August 7 1982) is a Greek professional Basketball player. Though most of his career has been spent playing in the Greek League, he also had a brief stint with the Houston Rockets of the NBA. He is currently playing for Panathinaikos in the Greek League and the Euro.
Playing career Edit
Spanoulis began his youth basketball career with the AEL Larissa (Gymanstikos S. Larissa) Youth Team of Larissa, Greek, playing there from 1994 until 1998. In 1999, he signed a 2 year contract with the senior pro club Gymanstikos S. Larissa, which was in the Greek A2 League at the time.
Gymnastikos S. LarissaEdit
His professional debut was with the Greek club Gymanstikos S. Larissa during the 1999-2000 season. In the two seasons of 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 he played in the Greek A2 League with Gymnastikos.
Maroussi BC AthensEdit
After playing with Gymanstikos S. Larissa for 2 seasons, Spanoulis signed a 4 year Euro500,0000 euros net contract with Maroussi Athens of the Greek League Greek League, Euro League, and later the ULEB Cup League and played there until 2005.
2001-2002 season Edit
During the 2001-2002 season Spanoulis helped to lead Maroussi Athens to the finals game of the The Greek Basketball Cup. This was the first time that Maroussi had ever made it to the Greek Cup Championship game. Maroussi BC also competed in the Korać Cup that year.
2002-2003 season Edit
During the 2002-2003 season Spanoulis led Maroussi to the Final Four of the European Champions League Cup (now known as the FIBA Euro). Spanoulis averaged 10.8 points per game and 6.4 assists per game off the bench for Maroussi. He also shot 40% from three-point range. He was named both the league 6th Man of the Year and Rookie of the Year.
2003-2004 season Edit
In the 2003-2004 season Vassilis led Maroussi Athens to the championship final of the Greek League Greek League playoffs and also to the FIBA Euro League title championship game. He was named Greek League Most Improved Player of the Year. Spanoulis was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks following this sudden emergence. He also made the Greek at the Basketball in Athens, Greek.
2004-2005 season Edit
In the 2004-2005 season, his last with Maroussi Athens, Spanoulis averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 37.8% from 3 point range in 35 games of the Greek A League Greek League competition. He then averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 40.0% from 3 point range in 12 games of play in the ULEB Cup. For the year in total Spanoulis averaged 15.7 points per game and shot 38.3% from 3 point range in 47 games for Maroussi. He played in the 2005 Greek All-Star game and was named All-Greek League. This was a breakthrough year for Vasileios as he had averaged 11.1 points per game the previous year. He was considered to be one of the most improved players in Europe for the year. He led Maroussi to the 2nd place of the Greek League for the regular season. At the end of the year, Spanoulis was voted European 6th Man of the Year and Rookie of the Year for the ULEB Cup. He started to be called "The Greek Steve Nash" by some FIBA fans in Europe after this year.
Panathinaikos BC AthensEdit
Following his outstanding season in 2004-2005 with Maroussi, he signed a 3-year contract worth Euro3.6 million euros net with Euro (highest basketball league in the world after the NBA) powerhouse Panathinaikos Athens. Spanoulis and his agent Miodrag Ražnatović set the contract terms so that Spanoulis would have a buyout clause after just one year and set the buyout amount at US $400,000, which was the maximum amount allowed for NBA teams to pay towards a European player contract at the time.
With Panathinaikos in the Greek League he won the Greek Greek League League Championship and the The Greek Basketball Cup. His team went 24-2 during the Greek League and 8-0 during the playoffs for an overall record of 32-2 in the league championship and also went undefeated in the Cup at 5-0 for an overall record of 37-2 in the Greek League. He played in the 2006 Greek All Star Game, and was named to the All Greek League Team.
Spanoulis was also selected to the Euro All-Euroleague Second Team
In 28.8 minutes per game of play during the Euro competition, Spanoulis averaged 14.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 23 games of Euroleague play with Panathinaikos Athens for the season. He also averaged 61.8% for 2-point shooting and 36.8% from 3-point range; 53.4% overall.
He was the team's leading scorer even though he often came off the bench. He won the Euroleague MVP of the Week Award twice during the season. In Euro, his team finished the Euroleague with a record of 16-7. Spanoulis was also voted as the 7th best European Player of the Year (FIBA Europe 2006 Player of the Year).
Many fans in Europe began calling him "European Kobe Bryant" after such a dominant rookie season of Euro., in addition to his $400,000 USD buyout.
The contract amount was for an average of $1,944,000 USD per season, which was the same amount of money he had been making from his Panathinaikos contract. The Rockets had acquired the rights to Spanoulis on draft night (June 24, 2004), when Houston swapped draft pick #55 Luis Flores and cash considerations of $300,000 USD with the Dallas Mavericks for Spanoulis (pick #50).
“He’s a very versatile ball handler,” Rockets [then] general manager Carroll Dawson said. “He’s a good finisher and a very good prospect. He wants to be a great player. Everybody is going to like this young man because he is a very hard-nosed player. We have watched his progress very closely,” Dawson said. “It’s a big adjustment to come to the NBA from Europe, but he is a hard worker.”
Rockets [then] Director of Player Personnel Dennis Lindsey stated the following about Spanoulis prior to the team signing him. "We're very, very happy with his progress," said Lindsey. "He changed clubs this year from Maroussi to the bigger club this year, Panathinaikos. For those not familiar with European basketball, they are like the New York Yankees of Greek League and one of the two or three better organizations in Euro. They are an NBA level club. From our standpoint, we really like what Vassilis has done. He is their leading scorer. They are 9-1 in the Euro and they have already qualified for the top sixteen."
Lindsey praised Spanoulis' offensive ability. "He's got a couple of characteristics that we like," added Lindsey. "He can really drive and get the ball in the paint, and he's relentless with it. He kind of plays basketball like a fullback a little bit, where he just kind of breaks through the line and there's contact on a lot of plays."
During Spanoulis' first NBA season there was a dispute between him and Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy over playing time. There was an issue between the team's management, Spanoulis, and the coach as well over the contract that Spanoulis had signed. In order to sign with the Rockets and fulfill his dreams of playing in the NBA, Spanoulis took a considerably smaller contract than the one that was being offered to him by his Greek team Panathinaikos Athens. He still had two years under his contract with Panathinaikos, but his buyout was small and could be paid by the Rockets.
Spanoulis agreed to play for Houston at a price of $1,944,000 USD per season for 3 years, passing up on his former team Panathinaikos Athens' offer of $3,110,000 USD per season over 3 years, just for a chance of playing in the NBA. Spanoulis made the rotation, but eventually, there was a falling out between him and Rockets coach Van Gundy, after Van Gundy benched Spanoulis after he played poorly, citing that rookie players are dangerous for coaches that are in contract years and that Spanoulis was too turnover prone and lacking in outside shooting touch to be a good fit in Van Gundy's offensive system design. Said Van Gundy about the situation: "(Spanoulis) says, 'I was [Tracy] McGrady back home.' Great. McGrady is McGrady here," .. "I feel badly for him. He feels he was misled. Frankly, he's been his own worst enemy in many ways. Some of it is excuses. His turnovers have been high; his fouls have been high; his shooting percentage has been low. I would rather anybody start out with self-evaluation — what can I do better? — versus lash out and blame. Because I'm not playing him now doesn't mean he won't play in the future or we don't feel he could be a good player. I think he's allowed his disappointment to go to discouragement, which has, at times, stunted his improvement. We'll see. We'll see."
Spanoulis was traded by the Rockets to the San Antonio Spurs on July 12, 2007 along with a 2009 second-round draft pick in exchange for Center (basketball) Jackie Butler and the rights to Argentinian power forward Luis Scola. On August 19, 2007 the Spurs released Spanoulis, giving him the chance to return back to Greece to play for the Panathinaikos Athens Greens as he had requested. This was officially announced on August 23, 2007.
Allegedly due to "family reasons," Spanoulis decided that he would not remain in the NBA, with his agent going as far as comparing the Rockets reluctance to break his contract to slavery. Spanoulis instead opted to return to Panathinaikos in the Greek League. Spanoulis signed a 3-year contract with Panathinaikos BC then defending European champions. He was signed to play point guard and shooting guard allow with fellow Greek star Dimitris Diamantidis. Former NBA player Šarūnas Jasikevičius would later join them in the team's guard rotation.
The contract Spanoulis signed was for 3-years, at €5,500,000 net salary plus a $1,166,400 contract buyout from his NBA San Antonio Spurs contract (Panathinaikos paid the buyout, so it did not count against the Spurs' salary cap). Spanoulis' agent set up the contract so that Spanoulis could opt out of it after one year. Spanoulis originally stated that after the first year of his contract he might opt out of it and return to San Antonio to play in the NBA again, provided the Spurs wanted him.
FIBA: Spanoulis was on the Greek national junior team that finished in first place and thus won the gold medal at the FIBA in the year 2002. During the European Under-20 championship final game, Spanoulis sank two clutch free throws with just 13 seconds remaining on the game clock to clinch a win over the Spanish national junior team and win the gold.
Spanoulis made his debut with Greece's senior national team, the Greek at the 2001 Mediterranean Games. He was a key member of the team for Greece during the tournament. Greece finished in second place in the tournament, winning the silver medal.
2004 Summer Olympics BasketballEdit
Spanoulis made his debut with the Greek senior team's top unit (the unit that competes at major tournaments) for the first time in the summer of 2004 when he was selected by his then head coach at Maroussi BC, Greek basketball legend Panagiotis Giannakis to be a member of the Greek squad during the Basketball which was held in Athens, Greek. Spanoulis was able to play in front of his home country's fans at Helliniko Indoor Hall as Greece was the game's host country. Greece finished in 5th place in the tournament, losing to Manu Ginobili and the Argentinian 69-64 in the medal round game. This was tied for the 2nd highest finish for Greece in basketball at the Olympics in its history. The 5th place finish, making Greece one of the top 5 teams in the world was the beginning of Greece's great run in international tournaments.
At the Euro, Spanoulis was a key member of the Greek team that won the European Championship and took home the gold medal. It was just the second time in Greece's history that the national basketball team won the gold medal at the European Championships and the first time since Euro when the legendary Nikos Galis led Greece's national team.
Two years later, at the Euro, Spanoulis was again part of Greece's team. Greece played the tournament shorthanded as it was without key players Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis and was not able to medal in the tournament. Greece finished in 4th place in the tournament losing in the final four semi-final game against the Spanish national basketball team and its many star players like Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro (basketball), José Calderón (basketball), Sergio Rodriguez, Rudy Fernandez and Pau Gasol. Spanoulis was the game's leading scorer with 24 points and he also dished out 5 assists, but Spain got the win by a score of 82-77 over the depleted Greek squad. Spanoulis led the Greek team in scoring during the tournament with a scoring average of 11.7 points per game.
He was a part of Greece's team that won the 2006 Stanković Continental Champions' Cup. Greece beat both Australia and Germany, whose team included NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, to win the tournament. Spanoulis led Greece in scoring during the tournament.
FIBA World ChampionshipEdit
Spanoulis was a member of the Greek team that competed at the Mundobasket 06 and he helped to lead the Greek team to the silver medal as they finished in second place in the tournament. In the final four semi-final game against Team USA he was the game's second leading scorer with 22 points and along with his teammate Theo Papaloukas led Greece to victory over the USA by a score of 101-95. Spanoulis led the Greek national team in scoring during the world championship with an average of 11.7 points per game and he also led the Greek team in free throw shooting percentage at 87.8%.
Acropolis of Athens TournamentEdit
Spanoulis was named the MVP of the 2007 Acropolis Tournament in Athens and he has also won the same tournament 5 times with the Greek national team in the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.
Personal information Edit
- Fans have dubbed him V-Span and Kill Bill.
- In Greek Vasileios Spanoulis' first name means "King" and is Anglicized as Basil,
- The first and only Greek born player to play for the Houston Rockets and only the 4th Greek born player to play in the NBA.
- He is best friends with Nikos Zisis. He is also good friends with Roderick Blakney, Jake Tsakalidis, Shane Battier, John Lucas III, Tracy McGrady, and Steve Novak.
Professional career statistics Edit
- Gymanstikos S. Larissa (1999-01)
- Maroussi Athens (2001-05)
- Panathinaikos Athens (Greek League, Greek League)
- Houston Rockets (2006-07).
(*Assists under FIBA rules are counted much more stringently than under NBA rules. Generally, an NBA assist translates to a FIBA assist by about a 2:1 margin based on historical stats comparisons between the NBA and European basketball leagues. So for example, 5 FIBA assists would equal about 10 NBA assists.)
Awards and accomplishmentsEdit
Professional team championships:Edit
- Won 2 Greek League with Panathinaikos 2006, 2008
- Won 2 The Greek Basketball Cup with Panathinaikos 2006, 2008
Professional individual awards and accomplishments:Edit
- Most Improved Player Greek League 2004
- 3-time Greek League All Star 2005, 2006, 2008
- 3-time All Greek League Team 2005, 2006, 2008
- Named to the All-Euro 2nd Team Euro
- Led the Greek League in assists Greek League
International team awards:Edit
Greek National TeamEdit
- Won a bronze medal at the FIBA 2000
- Won a silver medal at the 2001 Mediterranean Games
- Won a gold medal at the FIBA 2002
- Won 5 Acropolis Tournament 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
- Won a gold medal at the Euro
- Won the 2006 Stanković Continental Champions' Cup
- Won a silver medal at the Mundobasket 06
International individual awards:Edit
Greek National TeamEdit
- Acropolis Tournament Most Valuable Player 2007
- NBA.com player profile
- NBA.com player biography
- Euroleague.net player profile
- Panathinaikos BC player profile
- FIBA.com player profile
- NBADraft.net player profile on Vassilis Spanoulis
- Interbasket.net player profile
- Draftexpress.com player profile
- Draftexpress.com article on Vassilis Spanoulis
- FIBA.com Video Interview with Vasileios Spanoulis
- 'HoopsWorld.com Global' story on Spanoulis (12/02/2007)
- 'HoopsWorld.com Global' story on Spanoulis (28/01/2007)
- Clutchfans.net Spanoulis article
- Vassilis Spanoulis blog at Sport24.gr
- Insidehoops.com article on Vassilis Spanoulis
- Vassilis Spanoulis signs with Panathinaikos Athens BC
- Panathinaikos brings back Spanoulis
- Clutchfans.net Dimitris Ritsonis from Draftcity.com scouts Spanoulis and his 2004 Most Improved Player of Year Award
- Greece's accumulated statistics at Eurobasket 2007
- Greece's 2006 FIBA World Championship stats
- Beobasket.co.yu Vassilis Spanoulis player profile