In an outstanding demonstration of the close bond between Israel and the United States in the realm of sports, American-Israeli basketball legend Tal Brody and former Maccabi Tel Aviv star LaVon Mercer presented members of the Hawks Organization with Maccabi Tel Aviv jerseys, during the game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Wednesday night.
Opher Aviran, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast and Sharon Kabalo, Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Southeast, joined Brody and Mercer in presenting the jerseys to the Hawk's team captain Josh Smith, NBA all-star Dominique Wilkins and long time season ticket holder Effie Spielman.
Aviran affirmed that, "The close ties between Israel and the United States go far beyond politics."
"Through sport, especially basketball, we see so many great connections between Israel and the United States. So many Americans come play professional basketball in Israel. It is only right to honor these ties," he said.
Born and raised in Trenton, N.J, Brody was the ideal candidate to represent the bond between America and Israel on the basketball field. Brody first traveled to Tel Aviv in 1965 to compete in the Maccabiah Games, where he helped the U.S. basketball team win a gold medal. As an immigrant to Israel, he led Maccabi to its first European championship.
“I saw the meaning and the importance that I had, going to Israel,” Brody said. “I saw that in many different instances — not only [in] the fact that we were winning and people were smiling, but when we went to East Europe to play. The Jews in East Europe were coming up to us after the game and thanking us so much for making them proud in countries where they had suffered anti-Semitism.”