5 questions with Texas Legends head coach George Galanopoulos

Photo courtesy of Dawson Creative
Photo courtesy of Dawson Creative /
Photo courtesy of Dawson Creative
Photo courtesy of Dawson Creative /

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to talk to Texas Legends head coach George Galanopoulos and ask him a few questions.

I asked Galanopoulos, or “Coach G,” mostly about his experience as a coach in the G League. But Coach G’s journey to get there is truly motivating, especially to those who have a passion for the game of basketball.

Head coach George Galanopoulos’ journey to the G League

Passion is exactly what Coach G had. When he was 16 years old, he knew that he wanted to be a coach at the professional level. So he got right to it. At 16, Coach G started coaching middle schoolers at the AAU level. He coached, developed players, and ran camps for two years.

After high school, Coach G went off to college. He attended Indiana university while keeping that dream of becoming a coach at the professional level. Coach G’s family friend, and former center for the Chicago Bears, Jerry Fontenot, lived very close to the Chicago Bulls’ old practice facility. He worked out there in the offseason and knew the Bulls’ strength and conditioning coach.

On an episode of “Mental Buckets,” Coach G recalled it as “asking a friend for a favor”.

Just like that, Coach G had an internship in developing the best players in the world. He would get rebounds for players, play defense, and pass off the pick & roll – whatever the players needed in an on-court workout, Coach G would do. As a die-hard Bulls fan growing up, it was a dream come true for him.

It was Coach G’s first experience at the professional level.

Still, in college, Coach G aspired to be the manager of the IU basketball team. He interviewed every year he was there but didn’t obtain the role until his junior year.

After he graduated in 2011, Coach G acquired a position at the Bakersfield Jam out in California as a Basketball operations intern. The Jam were a team in what was then the D-League and were the D-League affiliates of the Detroit Pistons. His next year there, Coach G was a player development coach. In his third year there, he was an assistant coach. After his third year, the Suns bought the Bakersfield Jam, re-located, brought in new staff, and become the Northern Arizona Suns.

After the Suns bought the Jam, Coach G was left looking for a job. He ended up in New Zealand as an assistant coach and continued gaining experience at the professional level.

Then, Coach G got the position he was looking for. He was hired as part of the Dallas Mavericks player development team in 2015. A year later, he became an assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks’ G League affiliate, the Texas Legends. A year after that, he went back to the Mavericks as an assistant video coordinator.

In between his different stretches with the Mavericks and the Legends, Coach G was hired as the head coach of the Uganda Men’s National Team, a position that he still fills.

Finally, after bouncing around the Mavericks organization for a few years, Coach G completed his goal. He was hired as the head coach of the Texas Legends in 2019.

And this past week, Coach G made history with the Legends when they won their first playoff game in franchise history.

Coach G is one of the youngest coaches in the NBA or the G League. He made it happen and it was awesome to have a chance to ask him a few questions about his position with the Texas Legends.

5 questions with Texas Legends Head Coach George Galanopoulos

NOTE: The Texas Legends went on to beat the Birmingham Squadron 115 to 100 in the Conference Quarterfinals. That win was the team’s first playoff win in franchise history. Then, in the Conference Semifinals, the Texas Legends lost to the first-seeded Rio Grande Valley Vipers 103 to 120. This interview took place before those games.

Here’s the interview:

Q: The G League is seen as a place for development. As a coach, is your main goal winning or development? And how does that factor in your decision-making on substitutions? In clutch time, do you play a proven veteran or a rookie or sophomore player who needs to gain more experience in clutch time?

A: The way I see development vs. winning is they’re complementary to each other. Our idea of development is every day trying to build sustainable winning habits, so these players can build longevity in their careers. What we’ve seen is if the players are developing properly, in all facets of being a professional, then winning is ultimately the byproduct. There are a lot of young players in our league, so there will be inexperience in at the end of games at times. It’s all a part of the development process.

Q: One thing I find interesting is that in 2015, you had a brief stint in New Zealand, and you are also the Head Coach for the Uganda Men’s national team. What’s the story behind landing those jobs? Also, how different is the style of play of the NBA compared to international basketball?

A: I went to New Zealand because I struggled to land a job with a team here in the states that season and got connected with a coach who needed an assistant. It was great timing to be able to travel and experience basketball at a different level and part of the world. I got the Uganda job through a coach I was an assistant for in the G League. Again, the timing ended up being perfect and I’m still with them five years later. The biggest difference in style of play I think is the rules are different from professional basketball here. There is no defensive three seconds and you can technically goaltend by tapping the ball off the rim. It’s more of a physical game, too. A lot of fouls are not called compared to here.

Q: Between the NBA and the G League, players are constantly being called up, signing 10-day contracts, and returning back to the G League. What is the challenge of coaching a team that often doesn’t spend a lot of time together on the court?

A: The main focus of coaching a fluid roster is simplicity and consistency in your core values. Those are the things you have the most control over that help navigate that constant change. Also, a core group of 4-6 players being there for most of the season helps a lot with familiarity and integrating new players.

Q: The Texas Legends have officially clinched a playoff berth. But, they are still seeking their first playoff win in franchise history. Last year, the Legends were on track but opted out of the single-site season. How important is it to give this franchise their first playoff win ever?

A: Winning the franchise’s first playoff game would be an amazing accomplishment. Our focus has never been on winning. We work every day to help the players get better individually and as a group, and the wins take care of themselves. But we have a group of players who value winning and winning habits. Plus the fans have been incredible to us so it would be great for them to experience that as well. We’ll see what happens.

Q: There is no question the G League hosts tremendous talents. Yet, it still lacks the popularity it deserves. Why do fans sleep on the G League, how can they get more involved, and how important is it for fans to be involved with their local G League team?

A: Minor league sports, in general, face an uphill battle with fan engagement compared to their respective big-league clubs. It comes down to fan awareness and their game-day experience. The G League has done a tremendous job marketing the league and its players on social media, as well as televising games. I believe it will only improve from here.

Thank you so much to Coach George Galanopoulos for these fantastic responses. It was a privilege to be able to talk to him and ask him these questions. I encourage all fans to support their local G-League team and try to attend games because the talent there is truly remarkable.

Next. 5 questions with Oklahoma City Blue guard Justin Jaworski. dark