Euroleague Basketball joins the worldwide family of basketball in mourning long-time Panathinaikos Athens president Thanasis Giannakopoulos, who died on Tuesday at the age of 88. His passing follows by nine months that of his brother, Pavlos, the other beloved patriarch of Panathinaikos during the most successful run of any team in modern European basketball. Together, the Giannakopoulos brothers guided Panathinaikos to the highest echelons of the EuroLeague, where the team remains today, under the stewardship of Pavlos Giannakopoulos's son, Dimitrios.
"We are sorry for our sport to have lost today a man who was integral in building of one of the great success stories in modern basketball, Thanasis Giannakopoulos," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball's President and CEO, said. "For generations of fans, it's impossible to separate the success of Panathinaikos Athens from the commitment and love shown to that club by the Giannakopoulos family. Thanasis was there, side by side with his brother Pavlos, to make greatness happen on the court again and again, and in so doing, set standards for all of our clubs to live up to. Basketball will miss him."
Thanasis Giannakopoulos was the Panathinaikos president from 2002 to 2012, but his influence stretched back to 1987, when the brothers took it upon themselves to take the club to new prominence. Their takeover of Panathinaikos coincided with the dawn of the Final Four era, and their timing couldn't have been better. In due time, Panathinaikos would dominate that era like no other team, winning a first title in 1996, to be followed by five more, in 2000, 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011. In 2012, the brothers stepped down from their duties as directors, but their presence in the hearts of Panathinaikos fans never waned.
Altogether, when Thanasis and Pavlos Giannakopoulos ran Panathinaikos, the club won six EuroLeague crowns, the 1996 Intercontinental Cup, 13 Greek League titles and nine Greek Cups. They established a commitment to excellence that attracted elite players and coaches from around the world and created unforgettable memories for Panathinaikos and general basketball fans alike. Their excellence as basketball executives was saluted by Euroleague Basketball in 2011 when Thanasis and Pavlos were named joint winners of the Executive of the Year award for the 2010-11 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season.