The big step to success:
There is a moment in each athlete’s life, that requires courage to make the step forward, and so it was for Kostas Papanikolaou. The 2008-09 basketball season was over and Kostas Papanikolaou was named the Best Young Player of the Greek League! That is where his incredible story begins, a story with many achievements and experiences despite his only 27 years of age! Having also been the 2009 FIBA U20 European Championship’s MVP amongst some of the most talented players in Europe, the young Kostas leaves the safety of Aris and Thessaloniki, Northern Greece and takes a big step to play for a much bigger club, Olympiacos Piraeus.
First taste of glory
The initial seasons of Kostas Papanikolaou in Olympiacos were not as he might have expected! Not only did he spend a lot of time on the bench, but he was also excluded from the team’s most crucial games. Nevertheless, Kostas is not the type of player to back down, he kept working hard with persistence and eventually managed to find his role in the team. As all athletes know, it takes a lot of effort to finally convince your coaches to rely on you being on the frontcourt (Read more about: 3 Tips to impress a coach during Tryouts)! Kostas fulfilled the high expectations and Olympiacos added a powerful gear to his already efficient machine!
The moment of acknowledgment
The truth is, that even if Vasilis Spanoulis has been the leader of Olympiacos for the recent years, Kostas Papanikolaou was one of the most important reasons why Olympiacos won the Euroleague title two years in a row the 2012 and 2013 seasons. For this accomplishment, he was also voted Euroleague’s Rising Star, and this really appealed to many clubs in Europe. However, Barcelona was the one to sign Papanikolaou with a multimillion contract that rewarded all his struggle!
The ultimate NBA experience for Papanikolaou
Barcelona could not keep the talent of Papanikolaou for long and his transatlantic journey was about to start really soon! Papanikolaou signed with the Houston Rockets that gave him the opportunity to challenge himself at the highest level! He took part in many games and did significantly well coming off the bench! He also played for the Denver Nuggets but with very limited time until he decided to come back to Europe and play for the team that made him a pro baller, Olympiacos.
Failure is never an option
It seems that NBA was not the best choice for Kostas however, he did not let disappointment drag him down. Even if his NBA career did not turn out as he would wish, Papanikolaou came out a lot stronger after that! Not only did he manage to establish himself as a starter in Olympiacos, but he also was a part of the Greek National Team in the Eurobasket 2017! Against all odds, he was one of the best players for the Greek team in the tournament which clearly means that the way to the top may be hard and harsh but it is even harsher to stay on the top level!
The Kostas I know
All the above said about Kostas Papanikolaou are already known to most of the basketball fans. What very few people know though, is the character and personality behind this renowned basketball player. I was lucky to know Kostas since a little kid and I got to tell you this…
The Kostas I know used to spend his days and nights out in the streets playing with a ball or riding his bike. The Kostas I Know used to dirt his clothes just 10 minutes after he left his house! The Kostas I know has the exact same fluffy haircut for all of his life! The Kostas I know used to be the kid that all of the others would like to hang out with in Grevena’s central square. The Kostas I know was not even tall till the age of sixteen! The Kostas I know used to skip morning classes so he can be in the court. The Kostas I know gave me the best alley-oop pass I ever had! The Kostas I know did not accept loss not even in practice!
And this is the exact same winning spirit that all young basketball players must have in order to handle the ups and downs and face the upcoming challenges and difficulties! So, have faith… like the Kostas I know!
So chase your dream no matter what… Join Athlenda and follow the basketball career you are dreaming of!
Watch Kostas’s advice for you…
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