Israel’s championship winning basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv is to be honored for its accomplishments at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the US, as part of celebrations for Israel’s 60th anniversary in May, according to Israeli daily Ynet News.
The team, which won championships in Israel and Europe (including the Champions Cup on five occasions), will be the first Israeli team to be presented in an exhibition at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.The Hall of Fame, which sees millions of visitors every year, honors the greats of the basketball world, including players, coaches and referees who have shown exceptional skill or had a huge impact on the game.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is no stranger to appearances in the US. In September last year, the team played the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. It was the first time the Knicks, who won the game, hosted an international team on its home court. The proceeds of the match went to Migdal Ohr, a youth village for disadvantaged children in northern Israel.
The Israeli team, which has played over 602 games in European competitions, also took on two NBA teams in pre-season exhibition games in 2005.
The Maccabi Tel Aviv exhibition will highlight the team’s history since the 1930s and will include video clips of significant team moments. Rare team items to go on display at the Hall of Fame are already being shipped out to the popular museum.
The exhibition, which will celebrate 60 years since the founding of Israel in 1948, kicks off on Israeli Independence day in May. The inaugural ceremony will be attended by senior NBA officials such as David Stern, commissioner of the organization, and former Israeli basketball stars Miki Berkovitch and Tal Brody, an American by birth.
The Hall of Fame exhibition was the idea of officials at the Israeli consulate in Boston. The Jewish Federation came on board and the go-ahead was finally given by the Hall of Fame.
Later this year, the Maccabi exhibition will go on tour to some of America’s biggest basketball stadiums. It will later go on show in Tel Aviv, as part of the city’s centennial celebrations.
Part of the exhibition, however, will remain in the Hall of Fame to become part of the museum’s permanent collection.
“We want young people to get to know Israel not only through terrorism and the conflict,” Nadav Tamir, Consul General at the Boston consulate told Ynet News .