Embracing Maccabi Tel Aviv
After living in Israel for over 26 years, there’s not many times I can say that I did something for the first time. But this week, I did indeed attend my first Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is the Yankees, Lakers and Cowboys of Israeli sport, all rolled into one.
With 5 European Championships, 49 Israeli Championships, 39 Israeli Cups, and 3 League Cups, Maccabi has been the most successful basketball team in Israel. It is also the fourth-most successful club in European history, and one of the most successful teams of the past decade in European basketball, having won three titles and reached the finals five times in that period.
The team boast a great lineup of legendary past players – native Israelis and American imports – such as Tal Brody, Miki Berkovich, Motti Aroesti, Kevin Magee, Doron Jamchi, Earl Williams, and Aulcie Perry, and more recently Derrick Sharp and Anthony Parker been among the elite of Europe’s basketball players.
But even though I had been a sports fanatic in the US growing up, I’ve failed to attach myself to Israeli sports in the same way. No shame in that – a Red Sox fan can’t change his colors overnight, or in a quarter century.
But that doesn’t mean that my youngest son can’t. Since he started an after-school basketball league this year because his friends were all doing it, he’s become enamored with the game – and with Maccabi TA. So after months of nudging from him, I was finally able to secure a couple tickets to a game this week at their home Nokia Arena.
And, to put it bluntly, it was a blast. From the comfortable on-top-of-the-game arena to the enthusiastic but civilized crowd and the superlative play of the team, it was as much fun for me as going to see the Boston Celtics back in the day.
I don’t know why I waited so long to lose my Israeli basketball virginity, but now that I have, I know it won’t be my last game.