Three-time EuroLeague champ meets Joe Arlauckas
Small forward Stratos Perperoglou of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade may not be as much of a household name as some of his teammates over the years, but he has been as much of a winner as almost any Turkish Airlines EuroLeague player during his career. To date, Perperoglou has won three EuroLeague crowns – which is tied for the second-highest total in the Final Four era – and has been a starter in the playoffs for four different clubs. The Crossover host Joe Arlauckas asked Perperoglou about all of it in this episode.
Perperoglou's road to basketball glory has been interesting. The son of a career army man, he moved every few years as a child and did not play serious basketball until being recruited to play in Athens in his mid-teens. Since the decision to accept his first offer to play away from home caused great stress in his family, Perperoglou became aware early of how his basketball career affected those around him.
[6:40] "I knew that there were many sacrifices involved for my family, too, so I wanted to make that work," he said of the move. "I found out later that my parents didn't really talk for like a year. There was a big conflict in the house."
Perperoglou's upbringing had a big impact on the player he would become. Growing up in a military environment gave him the tools that would put Perperoglou in a position to grow and endear him to coaches.
[11:10] "I learned early in my life to be disciplined. My dad was in the army. I learned how important work ethic is and also being able to listen to instructions," he explained. "I was never the talent that everyone was talking about, but I wanted to work hard and listen to my coaches."
Perperoglou started to receive attention around Greece after several successful seasons at Panionios. He recalls that after one Greek League game against Panathinaikos, opposing coach Zeljko Obradovic sought him out and gave him a high five. The following season, Perperoglou was playing for Obradovic. He spent five seasons at Panathinaikos, during which he won EuroLeague titles in 2009 and 2011 while playing alongside some greats of the sport.
[26:10] "I feel like after I retire, it will be nice to look back and see what happened over these years. It's an amazing thing to have played for such good teams. A lot of players have played and never won EuroLeagues," he said. "I have been blessed."
It hasn't always been smooth sailing for Perperoglou, whose career and life were threatened by a blood clot following a flight home from the United States, where he was visiting his wife Erin's family, back in 2011, shortly after winning his second EuroLeague title with Panathinaikos.
[37:00] "When we got to Athens, my knee was really aching. I thought I was just stiff from sitting for 10 hours. Then the pain moved down to my calf," Perperoglou recalled. The next day he went for his physical with the Greek national team and the team doctor ordered a vein exam. "When the results came in, [the doctor] was like, 'Sit down and don't move. You are staying here.' "
He spent a week and a half in the hospital on blood thinners and would need to take that medication for the next five to six months. He missed all of the 2011-12 EuroLeague Regular Season.
[38:45] "The hard part for me was [the doctors] didn't have an answer. 'We don't know if you'll be able to play again or not.' I didn't know what direction this thing would take," Perperoglou, a devout Christian, recounted. "My faith is what gets me through the hard times, but you're not immune to the feelings and the uncertainty."
Now 35 years old, Perperoglou is starting to think about the end of his playing career. His contract with Zvezda expires after the current season and Perperoglou told Arlauckas about his thoughts for next season.
[47:55] "I would like to go to Greece to play for one more year, finish my career in Greece. We'll see," Perperoglou said. "I don't know about what team, but if it's something I feel good about, I'll do it."
With a one-hour format of exclusive one-on-one interviews, The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas goes well beyond the playing court with each podcast to delve into the life experiences that have made his guests protagonists and legends of the EuroLeague. This season, he is also reviewing the EuroLeague's modern history in its 20th season of this century by talking to the legends who have made the competition more popular than ever.
The Crossover debuted last season with such current stars as Vassilis Spanoulis and Kyle Hines, coaching greats like Pablo Laso and Zeljko Obradovic, and legends like Nikola Vujcic and Robertas Javtokas, among others. Recent guests include coach Sarunas Jasikevicius of Zalgiris Kaunas and Tyrese Rice of of Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.
The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is available on iTunes, Audioboom, Spotify, Deezer, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, CastBox and other platforms.