Two generations ago, it was very common to see Jews playing at the highest levels of
basketball, both in amateur and professional competition. Dolph Schayes was probably the
greatest Jewish player of all time; when he retired, he was the leading scorer in NBA
history. But after his son, Danny Schayes, retired after playing more games than anyone
in the history of the NBA, there were no Jewish players in the NBA despite the presence
of a number of coaches and owners.
Tonight I flew from New York to San Diego for a two day trip to a professional conference.
I had never flown JetBlue before, and found to my surprise that the airline offers
television at every seat (at least on this flight). I had already completed the day's Daf
Yomi, so I decided to check out this novel invention that I never watch anymore.
Well, it turned out that the first station to pop up was ESPN, and they were doing the
pre-game show of the NCAA Women's basketball tournament final (Maryland vs. Duke). I
used to attend basketball games a lot when I lived in Connecticut, but hadn't been
following things this year and didn't know much about the two teams involved. (Women's
basketball is just as big as men's basketball in that state.) So the first
feature they do is about an Israel-born player for Maryland, Shay Doron, whose parents
were both athletes and whose father served in the Israeli Navy. She had attended a Catholic
High School in Queens, Christ the King, known as a basketball factory! (Both Shay and her
father mentioned that it was a bit unusual for a Jewish girl to go to a Catholic school,
but her father said that it was "never a problem".) I had actually seen an Israeli
player, Limor Mizrachi, play professionally in Connecticut, and decided to see how my
fellow Jew did tonight.
So I watched the game on the in-flight television. Ms. Doron's team won in overtime, and
she scored 16 points including two critical baskets in the overtime period -- despite taking a nasty spill near the end of regulation.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/04/AR2006040402258.html
The game was broadcast live in Israel and I'm sure more than a few folks there must be happy. In the post-game interview, she said in a loud, excited voice, "I love Israel! This one's for Israel!"
She is a star in my book. I was proud to be a Jew and proud of Israel.