One of the signature Turkish Airlines EuroLeague superstars of the 21st century, three-time champion and All-Decade playmaker Vassilis "Billy" Spanoulis, announced on Saturday afternoon that he is retiring from the sport and the club, Olympiacos Piraeus, that he raised to new heights in a 21-year professional career highlighted by lifting the continental trophy in 2012 and 2013. Spanoulis, who will turn 39 in August, is the only player in the 33-year history of the Final Four to win the EuroLeague title three times and be voted Final Four MVP each time.
"Basketball gave me a unique journey full of intense moments and great emotions. It gave me everything and I gave it everything," Spanoulis said in announcing his decision on Instagram. "Olympiacos proved to be my destiny and my most beautiful port. I leave proud of what was greatly accomplished, but also of what was lost after a hard battle. Above all, I leave full, because I played longer than I dreamed.
"From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who has been by my side all these years: the presidents, the coaches, the teammates, the co-workers and the opponents. But above all I want to thank all the fans for their love. It was this love that gave me the strength to try harder every day and this love will be my guide forever.
"THANK YOU ALL FROM MY HEART. VASILIS SPANOULIS, A CHILD WHO DREAMED OF PLAYING BASKETBALL…"
Spanoulis leaves a huge list of accomplishments in his exit from the EuroLeague stage, including his status as the competition's career leader in six statistical categories. He is the all-time EuroLeague scoring leader with 4,445 points, with an average of 12.4 points over 15 seasons. He is also ranked first all-time in performance index rating (4,182), assists (1,607), field goals made (1,403), free throws made (1,131) and fouls drawn (1,583).
Spanoulis currently sits second, as well, in games played (358) and three-pointers made (518); sixth in steals (273); and ninth in two-pointers made (885).
Simply put, as the all-time leader in points, field goals made and free throws made, no EuroLeague player in the last two decades put the ball through the basket more than Spanoulis - even as he dished more assists than anyone else!
Even more than for his numbers, however, Spanoulis will be remembered for posterity as one of the great clutch performers in basketball history.
He won his first EuroLeague title with Panathinaikos Athens in 2009 and was voted the Final Four MVP after averaging 15.5 points while making 5 of 7 three-pointers that weekend.
In his second season after switching to Olympiacos, Spanoulis's inspired last-second assist to long-time teammate Georgios Printezis to complete a 11-minute, 19-point comeback and beat favored CSKA Moscow in 2012 marked the only time that a major international basketball club title has been won on the season's very last shot.
A year later, he turned around the 2013 championship game by scoring all of his 22 points after halftime as Olympiacos erased a 17-point deficit against Real Madrid to become just the second repeat EuroLeague champion in two decades. Spanoulis was awarded his only full-season EuroLeague MVP honor that same weekend.
Spanoulis led Olympiacos into the championship game twice more, in 2015 and 2017, but finished as runner-up despite more heroics in the semifinals. His seven consecutive victories to start his Final Four is a record, as well.