Istanbul Icons: Georgios Printezis, 2012

Mar 30, 2017 by Print
Istanbul Icons: Georgios Printezis, 2012

Long-time Olympiacos Piraeus forward Georgios Printezis will forever go down in history as the first – and only man, so far – to decide the winner of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four by taking, and making, the very last shot of the season.

The Final Four is a hero-making event, and nowhere has that been proven true more than during the only two editions that have taken place in Istanbul. The most recent of them happened at the Sinan Erdem Dome, the same venue where the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four will take place this coming May.

Printezis's one-handed baseline shot with 0.7 seconds left on the clock made Olympiacos the 2012 champion. His shot capped a comeback from 19 points down with 12 minutes left as Olympiacos stunned CSKA Moscow 62-61 to claim its second continental crown after a 15-year wait. It was the most astonishing comeback in the history of EuroLeague title games. Interestingly, Olympiacos's miracle rally and Printezis's heroics happened in the same city and exactly 20 years after Partizan Belgrade's Aleksandar Djordjevic hit a three-pointer for his team in the closing seconds that was the only other title-winning shot in Final Four history.

As soon as his shot fell through the net, Printezis instantly became a 21st century EuroLeague Final Four hero with almost make-believe aura for a player who also epitomizes old-school devotion to a single club. Printezis has spent all but two seasons of his professional career at Olympiacos, a club he joined at an early age after having been a fan of the Reds as a kid and having sat in the stands at Olympiacos games with his parents and his friends.

He first practiced with the Olympiacos senior team when he was just 15 years old, becoming teammates with his idols, players whose posters hung in his bedroom. Printezis made his EuroLeague debut with Olympiacos at the age of 17. Now, after almost 200 EuroLeague games wearing red-and-white, he is the one who serves as an idol for countless Olympiacos fans everywhere.

His immortality with the club he loves is due in great part to the trademark shot that brought Olympiacos that memorable 2012 EuroLeague crown. And even though that basket is arguably the best-known and most important play in the EuroLeague so far this century, Printezis says he cannot afford to think about it just yet.

"When you continue to play, you don't think about it so much," Printezis has told "Every day you have a new target. If you want to be a good professional, you have to think like this. I will start thinking about it when I retire. It is a great moment for our team, but as a player I have to continue to prepare and do my job the best I can."

With Printezis as inspiration, Olympiacos proceeded to lift the 2013 EuroLeague title, as well, and to play in the 2015 championship game. Despite the fact that his playing career is alive and kicking, for Olympiacos fans Printezis is already one of club's all-time greats. When he joined the Reds as a teenage boy, Printezis could have only dreamed of becoming what he is today: a major part of Olympiacos club history, a man who brought his beloved club its second continental crown, and the author of a shot in Istanbul that is arguably the single most memorable EuroLeague basketball play of our time.