Yiannis Ioannidis: Memorable Quotes from "Xanthos"

Yiannis Ioannidis: Memorable Quotes from "Xanthos"

On October 4, 2023, Greek basketball mourned the significant loss of Yiannis Ioannidis, who passed away at the age of 78 after suffering from dementia for the past 4 years. As a coach Ioannidis was amongst the best in Greece winning a total of 12 championships and six cups.

Nicknamed ‘Xanthos’ (the blonde), the legacy left behind by "Ioannidis is truly priceless. He had both admirers and detractors, but his exceptional personality and relentless passion were undeniable. He was never one to accept defeat easily.

In the 1980s, he turned Aris into an "Emperor," and led Olympiacos out of obscurity to its "golden era" in the early 1990s. In 1998, he guided AEK to its first-ever Euroleague final.

Giannis Ioannidis was known for his short temper, outspoken nature, and explosive character. He never minced his words and never shied away from conflicts, be it with star players, opposing teams, or referees. His candidness endeared him to the fans of the teams he served and struck fear into opponents' hearts.

"Xanthos" was indeed a formidable figure. In tribute, Greek City Times has compiled some of Giannis Ioannidis' most iconic quotes that have stood the test of time.

Yiannis Ioannidis: Memorable Quotes from "Xanthos"
Yiannis Ioannidis: Memorable Quotes from "Xanthos" 1

In 1994, Ioannidis led Olympiacos to its first-ever Champions Cup Final Four, featuring Panathinaikos, Badalona, and Barcelona. During a joint press conference, Panathinaikos coach Kostas Politis said, "It is customary for the loser to congratulate the winner, and after the match, I will wait for Giannis to give me his hand." To this, "Xanthos" replied, "A few words are sugar and no honey at all."

At the Tel Aviv Final Four, Olympiacos fell short, as they were defeated by Zeljko Obradovic's Badalona, thanks to a shot by Cornelius Thompson in the final seconds. Ioannidis remarked, "What should Obradovic tell us now? God slept and took this Cup. These things don't even happen in the cinema, but when God directs you can't change the script."

One memorable incident involved Ioannidis lighting a cigarette after Olympiacos' resounding 77-42 victory over Efes Pilsen in 1994. A security officer of "Abdi Ipeksi" demanded he put it out or face possible jail time, to which Ioannidis boldly responded, "After sex, I always want a cigarette."

In 1995, a match between Olympiacos and CSKA Moscow saw five of the "Red army team" players hospitalised with stomach upsets, sparking rumours. When asked about the event, "Xanthos" quipped, "Let the Russians say... Ask them what they did the night before! The night of Athens is very sweet, and you find everything you want."

Yiannis Ioannidis: Memorable Quotes from "Xanthos"
Yiannis Ioannidis: Memorable Quotes from "Xanthos" 2

Ioannidis didn't hesitate to challenge the Serbian teams dominating the Champions Cup in the late 1980s and 1990s. In March 1996, he referred to the league as, "Basketball controlled by the Serbian mafia."

In the 1996 finals between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, Yiannis Ioannidis celebrated his last championship as coach of the Piraeus team. The "red and white" had the advantage and started with the victory in the finals. However, in the second the "greens" responded and tied the series at 1-1. Annoyed by the way Olympiacos lost, he said: "To boil my degrees and theories. I can't be zoned out and lose!", referring to the opposing coach, Bozidar Malković.

However, Olympiacos won the championship in triumphant fashion, defeating Panathinaikos with a historic 73-38 in the fifth and final, which took place at SEF. Following the win, Ioannidis said: "These 18-year-olds were introduced to winning and winning championships. So I said that some people should not underestimate the heart of the champion, since my players have been swimming in the deep since they were young and they succeed.”

During the 1996 finals between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, Ioannidis expressed his frustration after a loss, saying, "To boil my degrees and theories. I can't be zoned out and lose!" He was referring to opposing coach Bozidar Malković. However, Olympiacos ultimately won the championship in triumphant fashion.

During his tenure as AEK's coach (1996-98), Ioannidis also commented on the style of play, saying, "Look at Olympiacos and Benetton. They play exactly the same systems that the Yugoslavian National Team uses. Only someone with cataracts in their eyes can't tell."

Despite his competitive spirit, Ioannidis recognised talent in others. He offered advice to Dimitris Diamantidis about his future, saying, "I believe that Diamantidis could play in the NBA. When I was with the National Team, he asked me where to go. I told him that he is the best and has nothing to fear. At that time, of course, Panathinaikos was the most organised team, and I told him to go there."

Yiannis Ioannidis: Memorable Quotes from "Xanthos"
Yiannis Ioannidis: Memorable Quotes from "Xanthos" 3

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