There is no debate that Peter Giannikopoulos stands as one of the true all-time sports legends at Pope John XXIII High School in Everett, which closed its doors in 2019 after a 52-year history.
Peter scored 1,283 points in his sensational basketball career for the Tigers and was also a three-year starter and All-Star in football before graduating in 2006. He chose to continue in football at Saint Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Peter’s collegiate football exploits attracted the attention of pro scouts, notably the Canadian Football League. But the talented wide receiver decided to hang up his cleats and begin a career in business.
“It was a thought to play in the CFL, but with injuries and other factors, I decided to come back home,” said Peter.
Currently a real estate agent at Caldwell Banker in Boston, Peter returned to the basketball court and competed for the Saint George Greek Orthodox team in the Harry Agganis Tournament this past weekend in Lynn.
A 6-foot-2-inch guard, Peter showed that he still has game while matching up against several former college players. He defended well in the low post, deflected passes in transition, and he pulled up and drained three-pointers. By all accounts, Peter submitted an All-Tournament- caliber performance. His St. George team of players nearly took home the Agganis title, falling to the Queens (N.Y). contingent, 65-51, in the finals.
“I used to play in the high school division of the Harry Agganis Tournament,” recalled Giannikopoulos. “I have a couple of friends on the St. George team, and they reached out to me to play. I hadn’t played competitive basketball in many years.”
Evaluating his overall performance and one of his many steals that he finished with a breakaway layup, Peter offered, “I used to be able to dunk, but no more. I’m not the same player I was. I’m 34 now. I don’t know how the older players in the NBA can handle the schedule so well.
Peter is the son of Andreas and Efi Giannikopoulos who emigrated from Greece to the United States 37 years ago. The coupled owned and operated Kipo’s Pizza on Norwood Street in Everett.
Peter has a brother, John, 37, and two sisters, Ouraina, 35, and Anastasia, 30.
Fluent in the Greek language, Peter said the Agganis Tournament provided a great opportunity to help promote Greek culture and represent his heritage.
Peter knew of the incredible athletic accomplishments of Harry Agganis, “The Golden Greek” who starred at Lynn Classsical and Boston University before becoming the starting first baseman for the Red Sox. Mr. Agganis died in 1955 at the age of 26 due to a pulmonary embolism.
“It was great to get back on the court and represent my Greek heritage,” said Peter. “I’ve played in the Agganis Tournament since I was a little kid. Anytime you can compete in a tournament with the name Harry Agganis attached to it, it’s an honor.”
at Pope John
A four-time Catholic Central League All-Star, Peter is third among the all-time leading scorers in Pope John history. Former Pope John coach Dave Sacco is first on the list, followed by the sharpshooting Brian Benson, who has coached in the Everett High program.
Peter was a captain in football and basketball. He started playing basketball in fifth grade for the Saint Anthony (Everett) School team.
“We went 13-0 in fifth grade at Saint Anthony,” said Peter. “They put up a championship banner in the gym.”
At Pope John, the Tigers came within two wins of capturing a state championship under head coach Ken Peavey and assistant coach Dave Sacco. “My sophomore year we had a 17-game winning streak,” said Peter. “We made the MIAA Tournament all three years. We lost in the North finals my senior year to Ipswich at Salem State.”
In football, Peter played in a memorable championship game in 2005 against St. Mary’s High School (Lynn) on Friday afternoon (Veterans Day) at Chelsea Memorial Stadium. The Tigers, coached by Paul Sobolewski and piloted by quarterback Anthony Nalen, had the early lead but the Spartans rallied to win the game and ultimately the Super Bowl.
“I have some great memories of my four years at Pope John,” said Giannikopoulos. “I still keep in touch with my former teammates and classmates.”