One of the iconic figures of 21st century world basketball, point guard Theodoros Papaloukas, is going home to Greece as Olympiacos announced Tuesday a three-year deal between them. Papaloukas (200, 31) played from 2003 through 2008 with current champions CSKA Moscow, winning two Euroleague titles together among a record six Final Four appearances in a row. Along the way, Papaloukas carved out a unique role in basketball history as arguably the most successful substitute ever at such a high level in the sport. Despite beginning almost every Euroleague Basketball game for CSKA on the bench, Papaloukas earned Final Four MVP honors in 2006, when he led CSKA to win its first Euroleague title in 35 years. He then became the Euroleague MVP for the 2006-07 season, when CSKA fell just a basket short of a repeat title. Papaloukas and CSKA returned this season, however, and took the title back with a resounding Final Four victory in Madrid. Papaloukas this season was voted to the All-Euroleague team for the third consecutive season. He currently stands as the all-time Euroleague Basketball leader in both assists and steals. In addition to his club accomplishments, Papaloukas also helped Greece capture gold at EuroBasket 2005 and the silver medal at the 2006 World Championships. The move to Olympiacos brings the dynamic guard back to the team with whom he began his Euroleague career. Papaloukas played 19 Euroleague games for the Reds in the 2001-02 season.
CSKA Moscow released the following statement from Papaloukas regarding the move: "I would like to thank Mr. Kuschenko and Mr. Ivkovic for the opportunity they gave me 6 years ago to play for a club like CSKA Moscow. Without this, I wouldn't have lived so many incredible moments in my career. I would also like to thank Mr. Vatoutin and Mr. Messina for helping me through these recent years and believing in me. I feel that I gave everything I had to give for the club and it was time for me to return home.
"Whatever happens from now on in my life, CSKA will always have a special place in my heart. My thanks go also for the people in the administration of the club, the personnel in the offices of CSKA and everybody that helped make my life in Moscow as beautiful as it was. Most of all, my thanks and regards go to all my coaches and my teammates throughout these years, without them I wouldn't have been able to win so many things. Last but not least, I would like to thank the fans that supported me all these years. Our relationship will remain special and I will always be grateful for the love and appreciation they showed me.
"I would like to sincerely wish CSKA all the best for the future, something that I am sure it will happen as CSKA is great, organized club and it will remain at the highest level both in Russia and abroad. A new chapter of my career is about to begin. I hope it will be as successful as the previous years."