He had already long cemented his place in Euroleague lore with his fantastic list of achievements, and now Panathinaikos guard Dimitris Diamantidis has a new crowning feat. On Thursday against Zalgiris in Kaunas, Lithuania, he became the competition’s career leader in steals. Seconds after nailing a triple to tie the game at 56-56 with 1:45 to go in the third quarter, Diamantidis made history. As Darjus Lavrinovic started to drive to the basket, Diamantidis left his man, stretched his long arms out and knocked the ball loose and into the hands of Roko Ukic to give him 328 career ball thefts and move him ahead of former Greek national team mate Theodoros Papaloukas of CSKA Moscow for the all-time lead. Diamantidis picked up one more steal before the game ended, giving him 329. Papaloukas, however, was registered this week to return to the CSKA roster and could potentially tie or pass Diamantidis in Friday’s game against Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
Diamantidis, 32, is still at the top of his game. He leads the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this season with 6.4 assists per game. Diamantidis has led Panathinaikos to Euroleague crowns in 2007, 2009 and 2011 and was named the Final Four MVP in two of those. He was also the 2011 Euroleague MVP. Diamantidis has been named to the All-Euroleague First Team three times and won the Euroleague Best Defender award a record six times. He also ranks among the Euroleague career leaders in assists (third, 754), fouls drawn (seventh, 654), three-pointers made (12th, 240) and blocks (16th, 97). Aside from his feats with the Greens, Diamantidis was a pillar of Greece’s success on the international scene over the past decade. He helped Greece win EuroBasket 2005 and claim the silver medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.