Saturday, December 18, 2010

See If You Can Catch Me On The Fly. I’m About To Slam Dunk.

Shalom Yeladim:
I know you’re going to think I’m stuck on Hanukkah. Last time I wrote about the Carmel Forest Fire that started on the third day of Hannukah. Now I’m going to tell you about the Maccabees. But this time I’m talking about the modern Maccabees – Maccabi Tel Aviv – Israel’s top basketball team. It’s a 5-time champion of the European Basketball league and it’s making a comeback. Several years have passed since the team won the league’s championship. Looks like this year it may be able to do it again. This past Thursday Maccabi won its eighth game in a row, meaning it definitely is going to be in the playoffs.

I bet you’re saying we have the NBA and that’s much more important. So here’s the thing: the coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv is an American, and not just any American.

His name is David Blatt and he’s an American who made Aliyah to live here even though many years ago he played college basketball at Princeton University and could have had a basketball career in the United States. Instead, he chose to play professional basketball in Israel. Eventually he went on to coaching, landing up with Maccabi Tel Aviv. That was around 10 years ago and boy was he good. So good that Russia asked him to coach two of their teams – which he did. And he’s so good, the New York Times wrote an article about him. But now he’s back with us. You can keep track of Maccabi by going to their website. Right now all of its European league games are played and televised in Israel on Thursday night. Go, go Maccabi!!!!

One more thing: I almost forgot to tell you that David Blatt is not the first American to make Aliyah to play basketball in Israel. One of the players who helped Maccabi Tel Aviv win its first ever European championship in 1977 was Tal Brody – an American Jewish basketball player who had been drafted by the NBA. At the end of the game he held the cup above his head and declared to all of Israel Anachanu ahl ha’mapah – “We’re on the Map!” Since then Tal Brody has become a national hero and that statement has become one of the favorite phrases used by Israelis.

One last thing: If we’re speaking about Israelis and basketball – do you know that one of our players (yes, he also played for Maccabi Tel Aviv) is now playing in the NBA? His name is Omri Caspi and he’s a 6 foot,9 inch forward for the Sacramento Kings.

I’ve got to get to the B-Ball court right now, shoot some hoops and show everyone how I can slam dunk. It’s easy for me to fly in the air. You never know who may want to draft me.
Did you hear that David?


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