THE "PATRIARCHS" OF PANATHINAIKOS BC
Pavlos Giannakopoulos was born on August 20, 1929 and passed away on June 10, 2018, precisely 31 years after the day he became president of Panathinaikos Athletic Club for the first time (10/6/1987) and 47 years after his first official interaction as an administrative factor of the Club, in 1971. Pavlos Giannakopoulos was the man who, along with his family, shaped the history of the sport of basketball and of course the Panathinaikos basketball team in Greece, as under his leadership, the Club managed to climb to the top spot in Europe 6 times, granting Panathinaikos international recognition (also conquering the Intercontinental Cup in 1996).
With his wife Despina always by his side, under difficult circumstances and after countless of hours of working for the Club he managed to witness his dream come true. Six European trophies and countless domestic titles within Greece justified Panathinaikos as the most successful team in Europe with the vision of Pavlos Giannakopoulos and his family materializing after enormous efforts and sacrifices for the Club. Although Pavlos Giannakopoulos' love for Panathinaikos started at an early age, it was in 1971 that he officially joined the Club's ranks. Five years later (1976), he took over as general chief and 1st vice president, while later that year he also served as Secretary General, selflessly helping each of the Club's divisions in every way he could. 1987 was in general confession the benchmark season for basketball in Greece and a source of inspiration for all Greeks, as conquering the Eurobasket was the most sought-after achievement. It was at that time that Pavlos Giannakopoulos decided to lead the basketball team of Panathinaikos. Thus, the history of the club started to take shape and through the historical grounds of Leoforos and the "Tomb of the Indus" (in 23/9/2015 it was renamed to Indoor Stadium "Pavlos Giannakopoulos") the team took its rightful place at the top, evolving further every year.
Since his first day at the Club, he aspired to create a team that would serve as the vessel that would make the Club's name travel throughout the globe, having to face the already established big clubs of the time and several other challenges, until it reached the top. Through his persistence, perseverance, vision, insight but most importantly his innate passion for the Club, Pavlos would eventually manage to bring the biggest names of basketball to Greece. Legends of international basketball came to our country to wear the Panathinaikos jersey, with the acquisition of Dominique Wilkins still being the biggest and most groundbreaking transfer to have ever taken place in Europe. A day when the name "Panathinaikos" shook the world, while it is worth mentioning that more than 12.000 friends and fans of the Club were present in OAKA to spectate Wilkins' first practice with the team. Furthermore, the transfer of Greek Legend Nikos Gkalis, made the headlines in sports news during the summer of 1992!
During his time in Panathinaikos he witnessed great basketball names as well as esteemed Greek athletes sitting on the bench and wearing the team's jersey but never treated Panathinaikos simply as a business. As a natural consequence, all the players that ever marched with the team's logo on their chest bore enormous respect and love for Pavlos, who primarily operated as a "father" and secondarily as the president. With this philosophy at heart, came the first successes, which placed the foundations for a dynasty unlike any other in the Greek sports industry!
"In order to reach the top, you need to try. You must have vision, loyalty and faith."
Thanasis Giannakopoulos was born on February 27, 1931 and passed away on March 19, 2019. He was the second of the brothers who, under the guidance of the family patriarch, Pavlos, created the biggest Greek pharmaceutical industry, VIANEX. They also shared their love for Panathinaikos. Like Pavlos, he graduated from AUEB and learned in the family pharmacy under his father's guidance, Dimitris Giannakopoulos. The history of the Giannakopoulos family started right there in their pharmacy on Piraeus Street in 1924 and would continue to write golden pages on the entrepreneurial landscape of the country. An indispensable component of this history is that of Thanasis Giannakopoulos.
For his passionate love for Panathinaikos and his impulsive reactions, he was given the nickname "Typhoon". Sports has always been his big love. He served as chairman of Panathinaikos on the Volley divisions as well as the Panathinaikos Athletic Club while also being a counselor of the Hellenic Football Federation for several years. From 1992 to 2012, he accompanied his brother Pavlos on leading the basketball team of Panathinaikos to the peak of the European stage. He also took over as chairman of the professional Men's Volleyball team of the Club in 2008-2009.
The loss of his siblings, first his sister Vasiliki, then the youngest of his brothers Kostas and the more recent loss of Pavlos, overwhelmed him. "I am sad because life and fate made it so both my brothers departed within 40 days of each other" he stated during the "Pavlos Giannakopoulos" tournament, that took place on September 2018 in OAKA.