American basketball stars, past and present, got a close look at the equipment for a different high-stakes, fast-paced game when they visited the Israel Air Force base at Hatzerim in the Negev, near Be'er Sheva last Thursday.
The players from the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) were given a special tour by proud pilots at the southern Israeli Air Force base. During the visit, IAF pilots showed them some of the battle gear and other equipment they use in their day-to-day work.
The 10 past and present NBA players arrived last week as part of a visit to the country under the auspices of the U.S.-based America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
They were also part of a 23-member delegation who visited with President Shimon Peres at the President's House a day earlier.
“We're here to stand in support of Israel,” explained Allan Houston of the New York Knicks, a personal friend of U.S. President Barack Obama. “We're going to pray for Israel,” he told reporters while posing for pictures with Peres at the president's official residence.
A ball autographed by all the players was presented to the president by Bill Alexson, founder and president of Sports Power International. Warnings not to play with the ball, and to simply “place it in an appropriate place” went unheeded as presidential aides quickly grabbed it and snapped it back and forth amongst themselves.
“I can't play if I don't have a team,” President Peres quipped.