An emblematic figure in Greek basketball for many years, Dimitris Kokolakis was one of the first big guys to make history on the courts. This Cretan player (namely originating from Rethymno) was born on November 11, 1949. Standing a 2.15-tall, Kokolakis had Panathinaikos setting its sights on him, and signed with the team in October of 1969. He worked very hard to master basketball, but also to gain in strength. Even as far back as then, everyone was talking about the work he was putting in to improve his game and about the persistence he showed in order to get ahead and reach for the stars. In 1986, Kokolakis himself had mentioned those he felt helped him the most: “First and foremost, Andreas Haikalis, then Giorgos Vassilakopoulos who taught me my first moves, then Themis Holevas, Richard Dukeshire, and Kostas Mourouzis.” From his first practice with Panathinaikos in October 1969, he went all the way through to being named for the first time to the Panathinaikos’ first team in the 1973-74 season, playing alongside Kontos, Iordanidis, Kefalos, and Papazoglou against Panhellinios; from that point on he moved on to winning titles and gathering accolades.
Kokolakis became a main component in Panathinaikos’ successes (1969-1983). Wearing the green jersey he won 9 Greek Championships (1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1981, and 1982) and 3 Greek Cups (1979, 1982, and 1983); he kept on collecting titles wearing Aris’ jersey (1983-1987): three Greek Championships (1985, 1986, and 1987) and two Greek Cups (1985 and 1987).
As far as the Greek National Teams are concerned, he only played once with the Greek National U18 Team in an exhibition game against Austria in 1974, scoring 10 points; his career with the Greek National Men’s Team was certainly more… noteworthy: he played 178 games, scoring 1282 points (averaging 7.20 points per game). He participated in four Eurobasket competitions (in 1975, 1979, 1981, and 1983). Being a member of the Greek Police, he also participated in the National Armed Forces Team, putting many and great successes under his belt.
In that same interview to the “Athlitiki Iho” (Athletic Echo) newspaper taken by Kostas Batis, Dimitris Kokolakis was offering a piece of advice to the young talents of Greek basketball at the time: “They must first come to love basketball as a sport in order for basketball to help them. I would tell them to work hard if they want to get exposure, fame, and money. Irrespective of all that, and I will insist on this point, basketball will help them become more accomplished as human beings, by helping them shape a better character.”