(photo credit: MOSHE PRIDAN/ISRAEL NATIONAL PHOTO COLLECTION)
The first of Israel’s basketball greats, Tanhum (Tani) Cohen- Mintz, passed away on Saturday three days after his 75th birthday.
Cohen-Mintz, born in Riga, Latvia, was one of the best centers in European basketball in the 1960’s. He caught the eye of coaching great Yehoshua Rozin while playing tennis and became the leader of Rozin’s Maccabi Tel Aviv.
In 16 years (1957-1972) at Maccabi, Cohen-Mintz helped the team to nine league championships and State Cups, and also played a pivotal role in the side’s run to the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in 1967. Cohen- Mintz is still ranked ninth alltime among the Israeli league’s points leaders with 5,851 points.
Cohen-Mintz played for Israel’s national team 89 times between 1958-1971, scoring 1,076 points during that span.
He was part of the Israel roster which won the gold medal at the Asian Games in 1966.
Condolences poured in from across the Israeli sports world following the news of Cohen-Mintz’s passing, including by Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sports Limor Livnat, the Israel Basketball Association and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
“Even though I knew he was ill in recent years I was stunned to hear of his passing this morning,” said Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrahi.
“He was a true center, with the entire team revolving around him.”