Nikos Zisis, one of the greatest guards in European basketball this century, has announced that he is retiring from life as a basketball player. Zisis, who will turn 38 in August, started his professional career with AEK Athens and went full circle by finishing it with the same team. He made his Turkish Airlines EuroLeague debut in style by starting in a playoff game against Benetton Basket Treviso at the age of 17.
Zisis played for AEK from 2000 to 2005; he helped it win the Greek Cup in 2001 and the Greek League championship in 2002. They also made an appearance in the EuroLeague semifinals in the competition's original season, 2000-01. He also played for Benetton Treviso and Montepaschi Siena of Italy, CSKA Moscow of Russia, Bilbao Basket and Joventut Badalona of Spain, UNICS Kazan of Russia, Fenerbahce Istanbul of Turkey, and Brose Bamberg of Germany. EuroLeague legend Vassilis Spanoulis, one of his best friends, also retired from basketball two days ago.
Zisis helped CSKA win the EuroLeague in 2008 and reach the championship game in 2009. He played two other EuroLeague Final Fours, with Siena in 2011 and Fenerbahce in 2015. He won the Italian Cup with Benetton in 2007 and added Italian League and Cup doubles with Siena in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Zisis also lifted the Russian Cup with UNICS in 2014, won German League titles with Bamberg in 2017 and 2018 captured German Cup crowns with the same team in 2017 and 2019, in which he hit the championship-winning shot with 2.4 seconds left. He has also reached 7DAYS EuroCup Finals with Bilbao in 2013 and UNICS in 2014.
In 310 EuroLeague career games with AEK, Benetton, CSKA, Siena, Fenerbahce, UNICS and Bamberg, Zisis amassed 2,140 points (6.9 ppg.) and 885 assists (2.9 apg.). He owns the EuroLeague record for consecutive games played with 209. Zisis amassed 430 points (8.3 ppg.) and 178 assists (3.4 apg.) over three EuroCup seasons with Bilbao, UNICS and Joventut. He was also very successful in his 189 games with the Greek national team, which included a gold medal at EuroBasket 2005, silver at the 2006 World Cup and bronze at EuroBasket 2009.
Here is Zisis's retirement speech, as he released on Instagram:
It's time for me to announce my retirement from active playing. It is a completely conscious decision, because I know I have given everything. I loved basketball since I was a child, but I never imagined I would make such a big, exciting and unforgettable trip. I am proud of what I did, but also of what I did not achieve because I always gave 100% of my mind, body and soul. For me, Basketball is much more than a game. I loved not only playing, but also discussing, analyzing, always thinking about how my team and I would get better.
I want to say a big thank you to all my teammates, my coaches, all the people of the teams I played for, to my opponents! I will never forget the fans and the people for their love and support in Greece and abroad, in all the stations of my career. I feel blessed for the friendships and life relationships I have created. For the many journeys, joys, sorrows, images and emotions that I will carry inside me forever!
It was written and I am very happy for that, that the circle closes exactly as it had opened. In AEK, the team where I became a man and I lived a lot. The national team flows in my blood and was, is and will be the team of my heart! Its jersey marked me and defined me and the pride I feel for all these summers I spent fighting for it can not be described in words!
A cycle that lasted as long as a life ends here! But life can not wait. The fight continues. Without the ball in my hands, but with the ball always in my mind and heart.