By Ellie Lieberman
Not only getting into coaching, but finding a role as a head coach in the NBA G-League just 10 years out of college is almost unheard of. But, George Galanopoulos or “Coach G” has made that dream a reality. On the seventh episode of Mental Buckets, Coach G spoke about his path from University of Indiana basketball manager to head coach of the Texas Legends, the Dallas Mavericks’ G-League team. His path has taken him from being a young and naive ball boy for Derrick Rose to working in basketball operations for the Bakersfield Jam, coaching the Uganda National Team, and then working as a video coordinator for the Mavericks.
Coach G makes a clear point in his conversation with Packie and Mike that none of this would’ve been possible without a genuine love for the game of basketball, an iron work ethic, and the right intentions of uplifting others first.
In Bakersfield, Coach G learned the nitty gritty of the business as a “jack of all trades” for the team. Not only was he on the ground developing plays, but he also would take care of players off-the-court, driving them from place to place when needed. As a result, he came to view his role as not only a support system on-the-court but off of it as well. And through it all, he never lost sight of his “why.
“It’s hard to look in the mirror and figure out why you say, do, and think certain things and then try to better yourself from that. It’s hard people not telling you you’re right or no, you’re perfect, that was hard at a young age but you push through,” Coach G said on Mental Buckets. “You always remember your why, why you’re in the business, why you’re in the business to do what you’re going to do which is hopefully the right things with the right intentions.”
Coach G developed this drive at a young age when he was 16 or 17 and knew he wanted to coach basketball at a professional level. Luckily for him, his parents were his biggest supporters and bought in. They truly believed their son could make it.
As he’s grown as a coach and mentor, Coach G remembers this, and tries to push himself everyday. He talked about the importance of having strong mentors and building trust.
“Trust and loyalty is at the foundation of a staff culture,” Coach G said. “The players need to see not only that you care about them, but the way you care about them is consistently working to be your best.”
Coach G mentions always trying to soak up as much from mentors, and also players, by viewing every person in the game as a person to learn from. By consistently putting others first and “leaving ego at the door,” Coach G has pushed himself, and coupled with reading and meditation, he’s grown mentally as well.
When asked what he would tell his younger self, he said, “Have faith in your path and appreciate those around you.”
Coach G has paved a way into coaching by doing the right thing and consistently putting others first. Through his drive and unparalleled work ethic, no task is too big for him.