Greek Coaching Legend Giannis Ioannidis Passes Away at 78

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Greek coaching legend Giannis Ioannidis, who established himself as one of the most influential coaches in Greece during the 20th century, passed away at the age of 78. Throughout his illustrious career, he led three Greek teams to the EuroLeague Final Four and secured an impressive total of 12 domestic titles. His legacy as the winningest Greek coach of all time remains unparalleled.

Born in Thessaloniki on February 26, 1945, Ioannidis had a deep connection to basketball from a young age, even playing for Aris' first team in 1959. While he had a successful two-decade career as a player, his true prowess as a coach shone through from an early stage.

Upon retiring as a player, Ioannidis transitioned to coaching, beginning his remarkable journey. Aris Thessaloniki was his professional home for a season in 1978-1979, followed by two years in Larissa. In 1980, he assumed leadership of the Greek national team and, in 1982, embarked on the second and most triumphant phase of his coaching career with Aris.

With players like Nikos Galis and the addition of Panagiotis Giannakis, Ioannidis molded a team that would forever transform basketball in Greece. Aris triumphed in the Greek league in 1979 and 1983, and then accomplished an unprecedented feat by clinching all domestic titles from 1985 to 1990. This era was marked by remarkable records, unbeaten runs, and three consecutive appearances in the EuroLeague Final Four from 1988 to 1990.

In 1991, Ioannidis ventured to Piraeus, where he began constructing his second basketball dynasty with Olympiacos. Under his guidance, the team secured four consecutive championship titles from 1993 to 1996, as well as two domestic cups in 1994 and 1995. The Reds reached the Final Four finals in 1994 and 1995, representing a pinnacle achievement. Ioannidis eventually departed for AEK Athens in 1996, leading them to the EuroLeague Final Four in 1998, where they narrowly lost to Virtus Bologna.

Following his impactful coaching stints at the club level, Dusan Ivkovic succeeded Ioannidis at both Olympiacos and AEK, securing the EuroLeague title with the Reds in 1997 and the Saporta Cup with the yellow-and-black team in 2000.

Ioannidis concluded his coaching career with Olympiacos in 1999-2000 before returning to lead the Greek national team once more in 2002. In the 2003 EuroBasket held in Sweden, Greece finished in 5th place under his guidance.

In 2004, at the age of 69, Ioannidis announced his retirement from basketball and ventured into the political realm by participating in parliamentary elections with the New Democracy party. In 2007, he was elected as a member of Parliament and assumed the role of Deputy Minister of Sports until October 2009. Then, in May 2012, he was reappointed as Deputy Minister of Sports until June 2013.

Ioannidis is esteemed as the only Greek coach to have won championships in three different decades. Alongside Aito Garcia Reneses, he holds the record for the most EuroLeague Final Four participations (6) without capturing the coveted trophy.

His coaching career yielded an impressive haul of 12 Greek titles, with 8 won at Aris and 4 at Olympiacos, as well as 6 Greek Cups, 5 of which were earned alongside Aris and 1 with Olympiacos.

Giannis Ioannidis is survived by his wife Gioula Gkiouzelopoulou and their 21-year-old daughter, Theodora. His remarkable contributions to Greek basketball will forever be cherished and remembered.

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