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February 5, 2016 / 26 Shevat, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘basketball’

New Basketball League for People with Special Needs Launched in Israel

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Israel’s first ever basketball league for people with special needs was launched in Jerusalem on Monday evening, January 11, in the presence of Mayor Nir Barkat.

The unique league will enable Israeli basketball players with special needs, to experience for the first time an organized framework of competitive events and games. There are many special needs basketball teams throughout Jerusalem and Israel, but until now there had been no official or organized framework for such teams.

“Jerusalem is known for its outstanding variety of populations and opinions, but when it comes to tolerance and the acceptance of the disabled, there are no divisions and we all act together for the same goal,” said Nir Barkat during the event.

“I am happy to find out that Jerusalem is routinely placed first among Israeli cities in sensitivity towards the disabled,” he added. “There is no bigger privilege.”

The creation of the new league was initiated and developed for over a year by the Jerusalem Municipality and by the ‘Alei Siach’ organization, which acts to integrate people with special needs.

Rabbi Haim Frenkel, Founder and CEO of ‘Alei Siach’, said: “I believe with all my heart that the league’s activity will act as a firm bridge of understanding, which will help remove prejudices against youngsters and adults with special needs, and help integrate them in the community.”

Israelis Follow David Blatt to Cleveland for NBA Finals

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

The people who sat in seats one and two of row 12, section 120 at Quicken Loans Arena during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night weren’t your ordinary Cleveland Cavaliers fans.

Tomer Hulli and his father, Eli, made the trip from Israel to attend games 3 and 4 in Cleveland. Tomer, who lives in Tzur Moshe, a 25-minute drive north of Tel Aviv, has been playing basketball since he was 5. Hulli said he didn’t plan this trip, but once the Cavaliers advanced to the finals, he decided he was all in.

“A day after the Cavs made it to the finals I decided to come,” said Hulli, who lives just five minutes from Cavaliers head coach David Blatt’s home in Israel. “I paid $850 for tickets to Game 3 in the lower section and $600 for tickets to Game 4 in the upper deck.”

Hulli said he purchased the tickets on vividtickets.com on the night after the Cavaliers defeated the Hawks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals.

“The tickets are expensive, but you only live once,” said Hulli, who claims he’s a fan of the game, not just of the Cavaliers.

This isn’t the first time Hulli and his father have traveled to the United States.

“I’ve made about 10 trips to America,” said Hulli, who last visited in 2014, when he caught two NBA games in New York and Brooklyn. “We have a big family in Cleveland and also family in New York,” he said.

Hulli said many people in Israel have been waking up at the crack of dawn to watch Blatt lead the Cavaliers.

“Only the real sports fans wake up at four in the morning,” said Hulli, who frequently wakes up at that hour to watch the Cavaliers. “For Finals, I believe nearly everybody will wake up.”

Hulli said Blatt’s Cavaliers have the support of all of Israel, and the Cavaliers are a topic on nearly every Israeli‘s lips.

“Blatt and the Cavs are a huge deal here,” said Hulli, who plans to shop for his wife and kids during his down time in Cleveland. “The people of Israel love basketball. Blatt and Cleveland are all over the news in Israel. We are very proud that an Israeli coach is one of the best in the world.”

Despite that, Hulli said that if the Cavaliers win the NBA championship, the celebration in Israel wouldn’t compare to the one in Cleveland.

“For us coach Blatt is Israeli,” said Hulli, who believes the NBA Finals is the biggest stage in sports. “We hope he will help the team win. People in the USA must understand that there is basketball in other parts of the world and it’s not just the NBA. I see some coaches in the NBA who just stand and do nothing. That is not coach Blatt. Coach Blatt will teach them a lot.”

Hulli said he doesn’t know Blatt, and Blatt doesn’t know he’s attending the games in Cleveland. But he’s sure Blatt would welcome any Israelis into Quicken Loans Arena with open arms.

Hulli had a basketball career in Israel. He started playing professionally at age 18.

“Basketball is my life,” said Hulli, who lives in Tzur Moshe with his wife, Inbal, and three kids, Zoe, Romi, and Yanai. “I coach 200 kids here in two different clubs. I couldn’t survive without basketball because of how great of a game it is.

“I played 13 seasons professionally in two different divisions here,” said Hulli, adding his professional career came to an end when he discovered one of his daughters had a medical problem. “I’ve been a part of three teams that were promoted to Division One. Haifa, Netanya, and Lev HaSharon were the teams I enjoyed playing for the most.”

Gal Mekel back in NBA with New Orleans Pelicans

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Gal Mekel, the second Israeli to play in the NBA, has signed with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Mekel played for the Pelicans on Saturday in a 120-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, a day after his signing was announced. He missed his four shots and went scoreless, but the 6-3 point guard handed out six assists in 11 minutes.

Waived earlier this season by the Dallas Mavericks, Mekel signed a two-year non-guaranteed deal with New Orleans, ESPN reported.

The former Maccabi Haifa standout had remained in the United States working out with a private coach since his release by the Mavs.

The Indiana Pacers had been ready to sign Mekel in November following his release, but delays in renewing his visa tanked the deal, according to ESPN.

Mekel, who followed Omri Casspi as an Israeli to play in the National Basketball Association, had missed part of his rookie campaign with an injury and split his time in the NBA’s Development League.

Amar’e Stoudemire Scores Points for United Hatzalah

Monday, October 13th, 2014

The New York Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire has launched “Amar’e Saves” to promote a campaign that encourages youngsters to contribute to the Israeli ambulance service he has adopted as a cause.

A day before Sukkot began, Stoudemire filmed a video in his Manhattan apartment for the effort.

The campaign urges pledges by kids, individually or as a group, notably by tying donations to every point Stoudemire scores during the 2014-15 season. The Knicks will open Oct. 29 at home against the Chicago Bulls.

By Sunday, the campaign had 117 donors and $534 pledged per point.

Those raising the most funds will qualify for such prizes as Knicks’ tickets and a meet-and-greet with Stoudemire.

“Helping save lives is always a beautiful thing,” Stoudemire told JTA after filming with several New York-area Jewish teenagers. “It’s obviously something we all want to think about doing more of, but the fact that United Hatzalah has a much quicker rate for responding to emergencies is also very important.

“In today’s society, which is so fast, we need to be doing something about saving lives quicker, and United Hatzalah is doing that.”

Stoudemire became involved in the organization through his friendship with New York financier David Kleinhandler, like Stoudemire a co-owner of Israel’s HaPoel Jerusalem basketball team.

In an exclusive interview with JTA last year, Stoudemire discussed his spiritual connection to Judaism and his belief that he’s a member of the “Hebrew tribe.”

Stoudemire, a six-time all-star, is hoping to overcome the rash of injuries that relegated him to the bench last season.

After all, more playing time means more points — and more charitable contributions.

Hillel Kuttler wrote this article for JTA.

NBA’ Danny Green Post ‘LOL’ Selfie at Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Friday, October 10th, 2014

San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green posted on Twitter a selfie at the Berlin Holocaust memorial along with the caption “LOL” [laughing out loud] in the tweet, “You know I had to do it one time lol #Holocaust.”

That was the funniest line since someone said that America has gotten past its racist past by choosing a black president to clean up the mess.

After Green laughed all by himself at his selfie, he started reading the complaints and quickly deleted the picture and posted apologies in four tweets:

“Yes, mistakes do happen,”

“I want to sincerely apologize for the insensitivity of my post!

“I have great respect n understanding for this country’s history n wanted to continue chronicling my experience in Berlin.

“But showed poor judgement…sorry once again.”

Poor judgment?

Did he really even judge at all? Did he even consider the insensitivity of laughing at the Holocaust memorial for 6 million Jews gassed and butchered by the Nazis?

Would it have been “poor judgment” if some white basketball player took a selfie at a memorial for Martin Luther King with a caption “LOL My dream came true. He’s dead.”?

Green later changed the caption to read, “A lot of history here, more than you could imagine…very sad/tragic things happened #holocaust #berlin.”

Indeed, sad and tragic things are happening today. People like Danny Green are LOL at memories of the Holocaust.

Pro-Arab Peacenik Assault Jewish Leader after NY Nets-Maccabi Game

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Leonard Petlakh, the head of a Jewish Y in Brooklyn, was hospitalized for a broken nose Tuesday night after being punched by a pro-Palestinian protester following the exhibition basketball game between the NBA’s Nets and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Petiakh’s 14-year-old and 10-year-old sons were with their father at the time of the attack while exiting the Barclays Center arena following the Nets’ 111-94 victory.

“The last thing I remember is this guy screaming ‘Free Palestine’ and then a really strong punch,” Petlakh told JTA. “To get bloodied in front of your kids, it really crosses all the red lines.”

The assailant ran away and Petlakh sought medical care and required eight stitches. He reported the incident to the police, who are investigating the attack as a hate crime.

Prior to the game, a reception was held to raise funds for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.

Fans verbally sparred inside the arena as the game was ending when pro-Palestinian protesters began shouting slogans and a pro-Israel fan grabbed a Palestinian flag from one of the protesters, according to Petlakh.

As the crowds spilled out of the arena and onto the street, one of the protesters took a swing at Petlakh.

The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which sponsored the protest rally, condemned the attack.

“If something happened after the game, which would have been several hours after the protest ended, it had nothing to do with us or the demonstration,” JVP said in a press release. “(We) express our horror at the injuries that Mr. Petlakh suffered.”

Israel May be Part of NBA in Several Years

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Maccabi Tel Aviv reportedly is heading back to the United States this fall for its first exhibition games against NBA teams in five years – but greater developments appear to be in the works for the iconic franchise and Israeli basketball.

For one, how about NBA squads making the trans-Atlantic flight to play regular-season games in Israel, and an Israeli club flying the other way to play in North America?

First, the exhibitions, which have yet to be confirmed: Tel Aviv will meet the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 5 and the Brooklyn Nets two nights later, the Israeli team’s co-chief executive officer Eli Drikes told JTA.

The Israelis last made a U.S. jaunt in 2009 to face the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers. They were North America regulars in the mid- to late 2000s, playing a total of nine games over four preseasons in five years. It  was seen as the high-water mark in North America for the Israeli Basketball Super League’s dynastic club.

But that could change if you ask Tal Brody, a former star player for Tel Aviv.

He accompanied team executives in meetings in New York last week with Nets management and recently retired NBA Commissioner David Stern, and said his former squad could be part of a new NBA European Division that Brody predicted would be established within a decade.

Revolutionary as it seems, the NBA has a record of mining global branding opportunities. It has 14 offices overseas, and with the increased number of foreign-born players populating its rosters – 92 at the start of this season, 26 percent of the NBA’s total – the league’s tie-ins abroad would make even more sense.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters during All-Star weekend in February that he is “committed to studying” international expansion, but the issue and domestic expansion are “not on the top of my list right now.”

With 50 Israeli championships and five Euroleague titles, Tel Aviv (16-7 heading into Thursday’s regular-season finale) is the revered team in Israel. But others in Israel are catching up, due in part to American ownership and coaching.

Maccabi Haifa, owned by Miami resident Jeffrey Rosen, defeated Tel Aviv to secure the Israel title last year. Haifa’s winning coach, Brad Greenberg, a New Yorker with NBA experience as an assistant coach and in management, now works the sidelines for HaPoel Jerusalem, whose American owners include Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire.

Americans are among the minority owners of Maccabi Tel Aviv, and its head coach, David Blatt, is a Bostonian who made aliyah.

The team is expanding its U.S. visibility through a deal reached last week with the MSG Network, which broadcasts Knicks games, to screen Tel Aviv highlights and features on top of agreements in place with Comcast’s Chicago affiliate and the Los Angeles-based Jewish Life Television.

“The Maccabi Tel Aviv brand is a very strong one, so it seems like a great fit,” said Brad Pomerance, senior vice president for news and programming at JLTV, which on Sunday will screen its fourth monthly program on the team.

Such publicity and the renewal of NBA exhibition games will help in attaining another ambitious goal: Tel Aviv’s planned construction of a basketball academy.

In the conversation with JTA, Drikes said the academy would be constructed in the city and house up to 150 promising basketball players, mostly boys. It would open in the fall of 2015 at a cost of $15 million, he said.

Drikes said he hopes his team’s U.S. visit in October will attract Jewish Americans and others “to be financial partners” in the venture while drawing Jewish ballplayers from America to attend the academy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-may-be-part-of-nba-in-several-years/2014/04/10/

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