The Shmooze

Israeli Basketball is Pretty Intense

By Anne Cohen

When Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv face off, things get crazy.

That’s the main message we can take away from what happened last night, when Maccabi center Sofoklis Schortsanitis charged into the crowd to try to beat up a Hapoel fan. Madness ensued. Israeli fans raged.

Watch the whole incident below:

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Miss Israel Pays Surprise Visit to Sixers Practice

By Anne Cohen

It may have been raining outside, but the Philadelphia 76ers were in for a bright surprise.

Our favorite Miss Israel, Yityish “Titi” Aynaw, dropped in on their practice this week during her tour of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The first woman of Ethiopian descent to win the competition in Israel is touring America on an ambassadorial trip that will include stops in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and San Diego.

“I’m here as a representative of Israel, the Ethiopian community and of the Jewish people,” she told the Jewish Exponent.

The 22-year-old is apparently a huge basketball fan (but eat your heart out NBA, she supports Maccabi Tel Aviv) and was quick to crash the practice, showing off her moves and dribbling skills. “It’s so cool,” she said. “I want to play.”

While posing for a picture with the players, she joked: “I feel so short!” Aw.

At 6 feet tall, she has nothing to worry about.

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Drake Really Loves the Toronto Raptors

By Anne Cohen

If you thought being named global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors was just another title for Drake, think again.

The Canadian Jewish rapper just released a promo video for the basketball team’s new season, and it is seriously inspirational stuff. Check it out:

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Amar'e Stoudemire Wore a Yarmulke Before Knicks Game

By Chavie Lieber

Twitter/ @FisolaNYDN

Perhaps trying to invoke the good fortunes of his Jewish ancestors, New York Knicks Power Forward Amar’e Stoudemire sported a yarmulke this past weekend, ahead of the Knicks sixth play-off game against the Indiana Pacers.

Attempting to bring some spirituality to the sport, Stoudemire, who found out his mother was Jewish back in 2010, was wearing a black velvet yarmulke when he spoke to reporters at a shootaround hours before the game Saturday morning.

When one reporter asked if he was wearing the religious item for good luck, Stoudemire responded with a “Shabbat Shalom,” according to the New York Post.

Stoudemire has turned to his Jewish roots in the past for some luck. In March, he put together a minyan before undergoing surgery for a fractured knee, and he wore a yarmulke and talit to his wedding back in December.

Unfortunately, the yarmulke did not bring Stoudemire any luck, as the Pacers beat the Knicks Saturday night, 106 to 99.

Maybe next time he should refrain from working on Saturdays.

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No Iverson, But Israeli Hoops Galore

By Elliot Olshansky

getty images

When rumors linked Maccabi Haifa with former Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson last week ahead of the Israeli Super League club’s preseason U.S. tour, it made a certain amount of sense.

As it turns out, the 2001 NBA MVP won’t be suiting up for Haifa when the club faces the NBA’s Golden State Warriors on Thursday night or when the team faces the Minnesota Timberwolves, but given that Haifa head coach Brad Greenberg was the 76ers’ general manager when the team drafted “The Answer” first overall in 1996, there was a plausible connection. However, the presence of Greenberg wasn’t the only reason that an “A.I. signing” made sense. In recent months, Haifa - which finished last season at the bottom of the 11-team Israel Super League - has become something of an outpost for lost souls and reclamation projects.

While Maccabi Haifa (owned by Florida-based businessman Jeffrey Rosen) regularly looks to promote Israel and the Super League in the U.S. - the club last visited the U.S. in 2010, and the Haifa-produced Inside Israeli Basketball program airs on the YES Network and other regional sports channels around the country - the club landed in the headlines for a less-than-positive reason earlier this year, when former Syracuse University assistant coach Bernie Fine was hired to serve as a consultant. Fine, who was fired from Syracuse last year amid accusations of child sex abuse, consults on personnel matters from his home in upstate New York, and played a role in the search that led to Greenberg’s hire as the team’s new head coach.

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Gilad Shalit, Basketball Fan

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

Going to a basketball game isn’t headline-making news — unless you’re Gilad Shalit, and the game is one of your first public outings after more than five years in Hamas captivity.

Israel’s most famous ex-prisoner returned to the local news in a big way last night after arriving in person to watch his favorite pro basketball team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, take on FC Barcelona Regal. Israelis have closely followed Shalit’s progress since he was released in an October prisoner swap, with the 25-year-old at one point causing controversy simply by going to the beach.

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Syracuse Coach Accused of Sex Abuse

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Hot on the heels of the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, Syracuse University announced late last week that it had put its associate head basketball coach on administrative leave in response to allegations that he sexually molested ball boys from the 1970s to the 1990s.

ESPN reports that Syracuse police have opened an investigation in to the allegations put forth against Bernie Fine by Bobby Davis, now 39, and his stepbrother Mike Lang, now 45. Davis alleges that Fine molested him beginning in 1984, and that the abuse took place at Fine’s home, the university’s sports facilities and on road trips. Lang says Fine began molesting him several years earlier, when he was in 5th or 6th grade.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sex Abuse, Jim Boeheim, ESPN, Bernie Fine, Basketball, Syracuse University

LeBron James Shoots Hoops at JCC

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

LeBron James does not — we repeat, does not — think Jews “suck” at basketball.

The Shmooze can report this happy piece of news after the NBA star’s latest difficult episode in Cleveland, where his jersey was burned last year following his highly publicized defection from the local Cavaliers to the Miami Heat.

An Akron native, James played basketball last week at his Cleveland’s Mandel Jewish Community Center (of all places!) after a spot opened up on his friends’ basketball team. Initial reports suggested the JCC game went well for the 26-year-old, whose team won by 10 points. “So funny but good run,” James later tweeted.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Trash-Talking, Twitter, LeBron James, Basketball, Cleveland

Jewish Freshman Makes U. Maryland Hoops Team

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of UMD Media Relations

Jacob Susskind “gave it a shot to just walk on” to the University of Maryland’s NCAA Division 1 basketball team, and that is exactly what this talented athlete ended up doing. The 18-year-old recent graduate of the Golda Och Academy (formerly known as the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex & Union) in West Orange, N.J., is looking forward to a good freshman year playing for the Terps.

Susskind’s initial efforts to be recruited by Ivy League and Patriot League schools ended in the summer of 2010 when he was sidelined after tearing ligaments in his lower back at Nationals. After he tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament in his knee in January 2011, he had to stop playing altogether.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: University of Maryland, Terps, NCAA, Basketball, Golda Och Academy, Jacob Susskind

Former NBA Star To Coach at Jewish Day School

By Nathan Burstein

Getty Images

A former NBA All-Star has landed an unlikely coaching gig — at a Jewish prep school in Florida.

It sounds like the set-up for a movie, but it’s true: Former professional point guard Kenny Anderson has signed on to coach boys’ basketball at the David Posnack Jewish Day School in Davie, Fla., a town located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Anderson got the job after receiving an invitation via Twitter from Jay Doobrow, the father of two students at the school.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: NBA, Kenny Anderson, Dwyane Wade, David Posnack Jewish Day School, Basketball

Life After Duke Basketball: Jon Scheyer Signs With Maccabi Tel Aviv

By Josh Tapper

Getty Images

After much speculation from those who keep tabs on domestic Jewish basketball stars (Lord knows there are few), Jon Scheyer, the former Duke University guard who guided the Blue Devils to the 2010 NCAA championship, has signed with the Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv.

With Scheyer, Maccabi gets one of those undersize jump-shooters, rich in basketball IQ but plagued with the limited athleticism of a seventh man on a Jewish community center house league squad. For Maccabi, though, Scheyer’s Jewish heritage might be just as important: He’ll be listed on the roster as an Israeli; the Israeli Super League imposes a quota on foreign players per team.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jon Scheyer, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Duke University, Basketball

'King' LeBron James Consults Kabbalist

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Courtesy of TMZ

In the wake of his much-maligned primetime special announcing his move to the Miami Heat, is hoops superstar LeBron James desperate for some good advice?

That’s James’ ghostwriter Buzz Bissinger’s take on gossip blog TMZ’s scoop that the Heat’s new forward sought the advice of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, the kabbalist guru we covered in June.

“Whoever this rabbi is or isn’t, he can’t possibly give worse advice than his handlers have given him,” said Bissinger, who co-authored a biography titled “Shooting Stars” with the player. “The Decision,” James’ hour-long announcement aired on ESPN on July 8 to near-unanimous derision.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, TMZ, Pinto, Miami, LeBron James, Kabbalist, Heat, ESPN, Buzz Bissinger, Basketball

NBA Star Heads to Israel

By Adam Blander

NBA.com

While Jewish New York Knicks fans may wonder if signing NBA superstar Amare Stoudemire was worth the $100 million price tag, as well as the loss of all-star center and all-around mentsch David Lee, they can at least take comfort in the fact that the 6-foot-10-inch power forward has taken an interest in Judaism.

Stoudemire, picked up by the Knicks in a failed attempt to lure Lebron James to Madison Square Garden, is apparently making a trip to Israel. From his Twitter account, dated July 24: “I’m the new Reggie White. (RIP) I’m going 2 Israel 2 study Hebrew. It’s time 2 get a better understanding on who we R. Follow me !! Shalom”

Responding to reports of Stoudemire’s trip, Sacramento King’s Israeli superstar Omri Caspi told AOL Fanhouse’s Elie Seckbach not only that Amare’s mother is Jewish, but that he recently got a Star of David tattoo.

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Gaza Kids Attempt To Break World Record for Bouncing Balls

By Lauren F. Friedman

In a rare piece of lighthearted, apolitical news from the Gaza Strip, AP reported that more than 7,000 Palestinian children there spent five minutes on Thursday simultaneously dribbling basketballs in an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

The children, among 250,000 in the Gaza Strip who attend United Nations summer camps, were aiming to beat a previous record set in Indiana in 2007. (The political angle here — and there always is one — is that about 100,000 other children in Gaza attend competing summer camps run by Hamas, where they reportedly learn Israel-hating, along with swimming.)

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: World Record, Palestinian, Hamas, Guinness, Gaza, Basketball

Making Cheerleading Unsexy, One Team at a Time

By Jordana Horn

There is more than one game being played on the basketball court of Hapoel Jerusalem. Of course, the floor sees its share of basketball, but the secondary game is a battle of wits between the religious and secular elements of society — and the pawns in the game are the cheerleaders.

Ah, cheerleaders, known less for their inspirational you-go-get-‘em attitude than for attire that can charitably be labeled “skimpy.” Israel’s basketball league got on the bandwagon last year, decreeing that every team must have cheerleaders. But Hapoel Jerusalem refused, saying cheerleaders would offend its religious fans. So the league responded by slapping the team with a fine: cheer, gosh darn it!

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Basketball, Cheerleaders, Hapoel Jerusalem, Jewish Home Party, Orthodox, Sexy, Unsexy, Uri Orbach




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