Dimitris Diamantidis is not a name most American basketball followers are familiar with. But to those hardcore fans in Europe and especially Greece, Diamantidis is considered a basketball god.
The 30-year-old guard/forward known for his defense and versatility has a resume worthy of Greek mythology. He is a four-time Greek League MVP, five-time Euroleague defensive player of the year, Euroleague Final Four MVP in 2007, named to the Euroleague all-decade team (2001-2010), honored as the Greek athlete of the year in 2007 and led Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos to two Euroleague championships.
His long arms and incredible penchant for shutting down great scorers earned him the nickname Octopus Man. He’s also been called Spider-Man, 3-D and The Diamond Man. At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, he can play point guard, shooting guard and small forward, and can defend all perimeter players.
In 2006 FIBA World Championship, Diamantidis helped Greece to a stunning victory in the semifinals over the heavily favored United States team that boasted NBA all-stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade.
Even though Greece lost to Spain in the final, that monumental win four years ago is the only blemish on Team USA’s record since Jerry Colangelo took over as president of USA Basketball.
Diamantidis reportedly announced his retirement from international basketball following Greece’s loss to Spain in the round of 16 at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. “This was my last game for Greece national team,” Diamantidis told the Greek state channel on live TV, shocking many Greek fans.
“I thanked all my teammates,” he continued. “I had great moments with them over the years. It is very important for a player to play for his national team. But every circle comes to an end and life goes on. The national team is history for me. I repeat that I am delighted to have experienced all these great moments with the team and with all these teammates.”
According to TalkBasket.net, Diamantidis was partially motivated to retire from the national team due to a clash with Vassilis Spanoulis. Diamantidis broke the news to his teammates after the Spain game and thanked them for all the great memories.
“I don’t know what the rest of guys will do, but I told them in the locker rooms that this was my last game for the national team,” said the European legend.
He added: “I thanked them for all the wonderful time we had together. Thank God that we were lucky enough to bring a lot of success to Greece. I lived good and bad times with the team. We won a Eurobasket. You have no idea how much it meant for the players. We won the silver medal in a world Championship, beating USA. We lived great and intense moments. But we also suffered unlucky times. This team deserves much praise. Over the past years it has shown signs of a great team. What we must do now is to be there for the younger guys who have entered the team rotation and I’m sure can make it, as well.”
Now, Diamantidis may just be emotionally wrecked after losing to Spain at the FIBA worlds, so there’s a chance he could change his mind. Let’s hope so because he still has a lot to offer at the international level.
Talkbasket.net contributed to this report.