This past weekend’s NBA All- Star festivities brought celebrities and athletes from all over the world to Orlando to check out the best basketball players in the world.

Included on the guest list was Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier released five months ago after spending five years held in captivity by Hamas.

An anonymous request on Schalit’s behalf for tickets to the all-star weekend came recently from Jerusalem to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The team, along with the help of super-agent Arn Tellem, worked on behalf of NBA enthusiast Schalit to bring him to Orlando.

According to Chris Wallace, GM of the Grizzlies, “The Grizzlies played a role in helping Gilad get tickets for the entire all star weekend.”

Wallace went on to say, “We received a request from someone in Jerusalem on Gilad’s behalf, we took the request and moved it along to the right people.”

Wallace who has visited Israel in the past said, “I had met Gilad’s parents when I was in Israel a couple of years ago at the Schalit tent set up in Jerusalem.”

Now, Wallace was able to meet Gilad himself, just two days ago in Orlando.

“Having a chance to meet Gilad was a thrill for me. I am so happy he got to have this dream experience,” said Wallace.

In addition to the main event of the All-Star game, Schalit attended all of the events of the weekend, including the Skills Competition, Slam Dunk Competition, and Future Stars Game.

Prior to his trip, Schalit visited the United States Embassy in Tel-Aviv for his visa.

While at the embassy, Schalit had the opportunity to meet with United States Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro for the second time since his release.

Schalit, who was held in captivity by Hamas since June of 2006, was released in a prisoner swap October 18, 2011. An avid basketball fan, Schalit has been spotted at Maccabi Tel-Aviv basketball games since his release.

According to Wallace, “He is a huge NBA fan.”

To the best of Wallace’s knowledge, Gilad is traveling with friends.

“When I saw him in Orlando he appeared to be having a great time,” said Wallace.

Andrew Gershman is a freelance sports writer from Silver Spring, Maryland and author of the forthcoming children’s book “Modern Day Maccabees,” about contemporary Jewish sports legends.

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