Giannis Ioannidis (alternate spellings: Ioannis, Yiannis, Yannis) (Greek: Γιάννης Ιωαννίδης; 26 February 1945 – 4 October 2023) was a remarkable figure in Greece, known for his contributions to basketball and later his political career. He excelled as a Greek basketball player, a renowned professional basketball coach, and a politician affiliated with Greece’s New Democracy (ND) party.

Early Life and Education

Giannis Ioannidis was born in Thessaloniki on 26 February 1945. He pursued his education in Agriculture at the Faculty of Geotechnical Sciences at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Beyond his professional life, Ioannidis was a family man, married, and had one daughter.

Basketball Career

Playing Career

Ioannidis’s journey in the world of basketball began during his youth when he joined the youth clubs of Aris in 1959. He transitioned to the senior men’s team of Aris, a prominent Greek Basketball League club, in 1960. His playing career with Aris continued until 1978, when he decided to retire. Ioannidis left an indelible mark on Aris, becoming the second-highest scorer in the club’s history with 4,970 points, second only to the legendary Nikos Galis.

Coaching Career

Even during his playing years, Ioannidis demonstrated his coaching prowess. In 1977, he took on the role of head coach at Cretan club Ergotelis, a position he accepted at the urging of his friend and fellow Aristotle University of Thessaloniki student, Manolis Nikiforakis. Balancing commitments between Thessaloniki and Crete, Ioannidis successfully led Ergotelis to promotion to the Greek B Basket League.

After retiring as a player, Ioannidis transitioned to a full-time coaching career. He became the head coach of Aris, where he achieved remarkable success. Under his guidance, Aris secured eight Greek League championships, five Greek Cups, and one Greek Super Cup. Aris also made three consecutive appearances in the FIBA European Champions’ Cup (EuroLeague) Final Four during his tenure.

Ioannidis later took the helm at Olympiacos, where he continued to shine, winning four consecutive Greek League championships, a Greek Cup, and making two consecutive appearances in the FIBA EuroLeague Finals.

One of Ioannidis’s most memorable achievements was leading Olympiacos to a resounding victory against Panathinaikos in the last game of the 1995–96 Greek League Finals, with a winning score of 73–38. This victory remains etched in basketball history. After a brief return to Olympiacos, Ioannidis concluded his coaching career by leading the senior men’s Greek national team at the 2003 EuroBasket.

Teams Coached

  • Ergotelis: 1977
  • Aris: 1978–79
  • G.S. Larissas: 1979–81
  • Greece: 1980–81
  • Aris: 1982–90
  • Olympiacos: 1991–96
  • AEK: 1996–98
  • Olympiacos: 1999–00
  • Greece: 2002–03

Political Career

Giannis Ioannidis embarked on a new chapter in his life when he announced his retirement from professional basketball in 2004. He entered the world of politics and was elected as a New Democracy Member of Parliament (MP) for the Thessaloniki A constituency in the 2004 general election. He was re-elected in 2007 and, starting from September 2007, assumed the role of Deputy Minister of Culture Responsible for Sports.

In the 2014 regional election, Ioannidis ran for the position of Regional Governor of Central Macedonia, challenging incumbent Apostolos Tzitzikostas after Tzitzikostas lost party support. Although he faced tough competition, he was defeated in the second round. Subsequently, in the January 2015 legislative election, he lost his parliamentary seat.

Awards and Accomplishments

As a head coach, Giannis Ioannidis achieved remarkable success:

Titles Won

  • 12× Greek League Champion
  • 6× Greek Cup Winner
  • Greek Super Cup Winner
  • Greek 2nd Division Champion

Other Honors

  • 3× Greek League Runner-Up
  • 2× Greek Cup Runner-Up
  • 3× EuroLeague Finals Runner-Up
  • 6× EuroLeague Final Four Appearance

Giannis Ioannidis’s legacy is marked not only by his outstanding contributions to Greek basketball but also by his dedication to public service in the political arena. His impact on both fields will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come.