America’s National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame has announced its inductees for 2011, well representing basketball with an NBA executive, a college notable and one of the most significant figures ever in Maccabi Tel Aviv history.

In the spirit of “last shall be first,” BallinEurope first congratulates Talbot “Tal” Brody. After his senior, All-America year with University of Illinois in 1964-65, Brody was chosen by the Baltimore Bullets as the no. 12 overall pick in the ‘65 NBA draft – but he forewent the opportunity to play ball in the big league, instead preferring to finish a graduate degree (imagine that happening today).

For the 1966-67 season, Brody began his career with Maccabi; the team immediately ascended to the European Champions Cup final four round with Brody starting at no. 2. Military commitments returned Brody to the ‘States for a couple of years and the SG played with the fifth-placing Team USA at the 1970 FIBA World Championship.

Returning to Israel for good for the 1970-71 season, Brody was soon made immortal in Israel sports history by guiding Tel Aviv to the European Champions Cup in 1977, part of the franchise’s first triple-crown season and the country’s first major sports championship. His post-game comments preserved a spot in history proper when he declared, in the face of certain geopolitical pressure from the Soviet Union throughout the competition with specific reference to Israel, the Cup victory to signify that “We are on the map, and we are staying on the map – not only in sports but in everything.”

In fact, here it is in what at least one source informs is “heavily American-accented Hebrew”:

Then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin personally thanked Brody for the championship and the sound bite, which has become part of Israeli discourse (not to mention political rhetoric and advertising). Brody would become the first athlete ever to be awarded the Israel Prize in 1979 and he retired from basketball in 1980, having guided Maccabi to the Ligat HaAl title every season in which he played. (Some things never change, eh?) He is today a member of the Israeli Sports Hall of Fame.

Since then, Brody has remained on the international basketball scene. In his early days out of playing, he acted as assistant coach and TV color commentator; today he is involved with a number of charities including Migdahl Ohr, for which Brody helped organize the recent NBA preseason games pitting Maccabi against the New York Knicks.

Seven others will join Brody in the National Jewish Sports Hall’s class of 2011, but honors to basketball’s two other representatives will be posthumous.

The Hall has called for Abe Pollin, longtime owner of the Baltimore/Washington Bullets/Wizards over 45 years taking him through a swathe of basketball history running from Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Wes Unseld through to Michael Jordan – plus one NBA championship, in 1977-78.

Alan Seiden is known as the All-American who led the St. John’s Redmen to win the NIT championship in 1959, back when that tournament was a bit more high-prestige than the competition that languishes in the shadows of March Madness. Even more notable might be Peter Vecsey’s claim about Seiden, namely that he invented a certain expression now common in hoops parlance.

Claimed Vecsey in the New York Post in 2004, “On each and every ‘ground’ raid to the basket, Seidman would infuriate opponents by shouting ‘And One!’ regardless of whether he was actually fouled. Ask anybody who ever played against him … it was his sardonic signature saying.”

Some 48 inductees in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame are from the basketball world, including Red Auerbach, Larry Brown, Red Holzman, Dolph Schayes, and original Harlem Globetrotters owner/general manager Abe Saperstein. Also Tony Kornheiser.

Induction ceremonies into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame will take place on March 27.

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