Legend: Ibrahim Kutluay, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

May 06, 2019 by Euroleague.net Print
Legend: Ibrahim Kutluay, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

Widely regarded as one of the best Turkish players of all-time, Ibrahim Kutluay has made history in European basketball. Kutluay became the first Turkish player ever to lift the EuroLeague trophy, doing so with Panathinaikos Athens in 2002, 15 years before a team from his country, Fenerbahce Istanbul, claimed the same honor. Kutluay was a main character in that 2002 Final Four, scoring a team-high 22 points in the championship game against Virtus Bologna.

Kutluay, one of the best scorers of his generation, started his professional basketball career with Fenerbahce, playing there from 1993 to 1999. He was the 1998-99 EuroLeague top scorer at 21.4 points per game. Kutluay went on to play for Efes Istanbul in the 1999-2000 season, helping his team reach the 2000 EuroLeague Final Four. Kutluay joined AEK Athens in 2000, becoming the first Turk in any sport to play for a Greek team, serving as a bridge between the two countries. After winning the EuroLeague with Panathinaikos the next season, he returned to the Greens for two of the next three seasons. Kutluay also played for Seattle of the NBA, before returning to Fenerbahce to finish his EuroLeague career over two seasons between 2006 and 2008.

Kutluay was successful throughout his career. Added to the EuroLeague title, he helped Panathinaikos win Greek League and Greek Cup titles in 2003 and 2005. He also lifted the Greek Cup with AEK in 2001 and claimed the Turkish Cup with Ulker in 2004. He later won two Turkish League titles, with Ulker Istanbul in 2005-06 and Fenerbahce in 2006-07. He is also the owner of a silver medal won with the Turkish national team at FIBA EuroBasket 2001.

Ibrahim Kutluay's legacy goes beyond his shooting skills, leadership and incredible talent. He rewrote basketball history both in his home country of Turkey and as a foreigner in Greece. A decade after retiring, Kutluay remains a well-known icon in Turkish and European basketball and a true pioneer in so many ways.