|Photo by: REUTERS/Baz Ratner|
Schalit turns passion for sports into job
By DAVID BRINN
Former IDF captive undertakes sports column for 'Yediot Aharonot,' prepares to fly to NBA finals in Miami.
It makes perfect sense.
Most of the public appearances that former IDF
captive Gilad Schalit has made since his return home from five years in Hamas
captivity last October have pertained to sports: participating in a basketball
workout with his favorite team Maccabi Tel Aviv, attending the NBA All-Star game
in Orlando, Florida, last February.
So, it’s not too surprising that the
first job the discharged Schalit is undertaking is connected to
Yediot Aharonot announced Wednesday that Schalit would begin
penning a sports column for the newspaper, co-authored with veteran sportswriter
This weekend, Schalit and Henig will be flying to Miami in
time for Sunday’s third game of the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the
Oklahoma City Thunder in order to file for their new weekly column “Free Game.”
Then, they’ll take off to Kiev to attend the finals of the Euro 2012 soccer
“Listen, a few months ago he was in a Hamas prison, now he’s
going to the NBA finals,” said Henig on Wednesday. “I don’t think there’s
anybody else in the world who’s going to attend both the NBA finals and the Euro
finals. He’ll get to meet the players and I know he’d love to interview [NBA
commissioner] David Stern.”
Henig, a colorful staple on the Israel
entertainment scene, writes “The Starting Five” column for Yediot, and was
pivotal in launching broadcasts of NBA games in Israel on the then-brand new
Channel 2 in the early 1990s. Later Henig broke into TV himself, adapting and
serving as executive producer for the popular Keshet/Channel 2 reality game show
Monit Hakesef (Cash Cab).
Henig said that he met Schalit six months ago
and the two immediately developed a rapport based on their mutual love of
“We’ve been spending a lot of time together and we have a special
chemistry,” said Henig. “I’m like his mentor. We have a common mania for sports,
and I discovered that he’s a genius, he knows everything, like he was never away
for five years.
“I suggested that it would be good for him to direct his
love of sports toward a job, and we came up with the idea for the
Yediot is introducing the new column on Friday with a special
two-way interview in which Henig and Schalit ask each other
Schalit talked about his time in captivity and told Henig that
soccer provided the common ground between him and his captors, adding that he
was allowed to watch matches on Al Jazeera TV.
“I asked him who his
favorite sportsman of all time is, and he said Michael Jordan,” said Henig,
adding that he is confident Schalit is going to excel at his new
“He’s very smart and he’s already a good writer. He’s going to