Daily Israel Report

Hall of Fame Inducts Basketball Great Tal Brody

Brody, who turned down the NBA, captained the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball club to the European Cup championship in 1977.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/19/2011, 6:29 PM / Last Update: 1/19/2011, 6:48 PM

Flash 90

Tal (Talbot) Brody, Israeli basketball great, is among the 2011 inductees to the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Commack, N.Y.

In 1977, Brody captained the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball club to the European Cup championship, the first major international sports championship for the young state.
 
Perhaps the most significant game of the title run was Maccabi's defeat of the Soviet Red Army Team in an emotional and politically charged semi-final. The Russians wouldn't allow Maccabi to play in Moscow, and the game took place on neutral turf in Belgium.
 
Historic sound bite
Afterward, Brody uttered one of the most famous sound bites in Israeli history. In his heavily American-accented Hebrew, he told a television commentator, "We are on the map, and we are staying on the map - not only in sports but in everything."
 
Following his comment, "we were called into (then) Prime Minister Rabin's office," Brody said. "He said to me, 'Tal, I had tears in my eyes; you don't realize what you said, how much it meant to the morale and the people of Israel - the fact that we are staying on the map, not only in sports but in everything.'"
 
Brody remains sports royalty. In 1979, he received the Israel Prize, the country's highest civilian honor. More recently, Brody was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the State of Israel.
 
Brody was a University of Illinois All-American point guard who garnered All-America and All Big-Ten accolades in his senior year. The Baltimore Bullets selected him with the 13th pick in the 1965 NBA draft, but Brody turned down the Bullets and returned to Illinois to complete his master's degree in educational psychology in 1966. That same year he joined Maccabi Tel Aviv.
 
As Maccabi Tel Aviv's liaison to the NBA, Brody was instrumental in organizing an exhibition game between Maccabi Tel Aviv and the N.Y. Knicks, with proceeds from the game benefiting Migdahl Or, an Israeli charity for disadvantaged children. He is also chairman of the Spirit of Israel philanthropy.
 
"You take the kids off the street - whether it's an Arab or Israeli, whether they're black or white, Christian or Jewish - everybody on the court is the same," he has said. "That's the way the game is being taught in Israel. That's why it's so popular and so successful and so widespread. I'm very happy to be a part of that influence and take up that challenge. That's what I wanted to do, to see it realized and to see it keep going forward."