If you hear expressions like “history in the making” and “significance” and “immortality” during the 2011 Euroleague Final Four, rest assured that this is no exaggeration, for an EL championship from one team will not only prove the existence of God but once and for all will finally settle the debate as to His favorite sports team.
The team on an incidental mission is Maccabi Tel Aviv; few, it would seem, gave the Israeli side less of a chance to be in this tournament than head coach David Blatt himself. Speaking with Blatt back in February, heinnews ran an extensive interview with the man which was capped by the following exchange.
heinnews: Please finish this sentence. Maccabi will win the Israeli league, the Israeli Cup and the Euroleague if they…
Blatt: Maccabi will win the Israeli league, the Israeli Cup and the Euroleague if God is willing. I don’t know if God is a fan of any team. So the job at hand will be extremely difficult.
heinnews: What is the main thing you think the team needs to do to win it?
Blatt: Honestly, I don’t think this team is a Euroleague winner – this year. You know what, I’ll finish the sentence. Maccabi will win the Israeli league, the Israeli Cup and the Euroleague if they stay together as a unit for more than one season. How’s that?
Indeed, in this morning’s Jerusalem Post, “Maccabi’s magical savior” reiterates his early-season feelings by stating, “Honestly, I didn’t envision this. My timetable was two years. I really thought that it would take us that amount of time to fix what had gone wrong in several previous years. I didn’t think it was going to happen as quickly as it did.”
The Post even credits Blatt with a bona fide miracle in 2010-11 – surely the second the coach has been responsible for if one recalls Eurobasket 2007 – as the ‘paper sees it, “Unrealistic expectations coupled with dysfunctional management saw Israel’s leading sporting brand hit rock bottom last season, but just a year later, Maccabi has rebounded as if previous head coach Pini Gershon never embarrassed the club at Madison Square Garden and former team manager Moni Fanan had never committed suicide.”
So with holy deeds to his credit and expectations exceeded, what else is left to Blatt and Maccabi but to win a couple of Final Four games then go home to take care of business in Israel?