Past, present and future with Ed Pinckney

Former Villanova and NBA star visits Israel to help coach next generation of basketball players

By JOSHUA HALICKMAN
August 2, 2019 00:41
Past, present and future with Ed Pinckney

ED PINCKNEY (right) and Tamir Goodman (leftt) coach young Israeli basketball players during Goodman’s camp last month at the Jerusalem YMCA. (photo credit: YEHOSHUA HALEVI)

One of the great things about Israel is that you never know who you’re going to meet at any given moment and at any given place.

From politicians, to celebrities and everyone in between, the Holy Land is a magnet for many, including those from the world of sports. It is also a place that merges the past with the present and the enticing future.

This past month the country had the privilege to welcome Ed Pinckney for the first time thanks to the Tamir Goodman Basketball Camp and the Healables Biotech & Digital Health company.

The former Villanova superstar, who won the NCAA Basketball Championship in 1985 and was a first-round pick in that year’s NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, played for 12 seasons in the world’s top hoops league for a number of teams, including the Suns, Sacramento Kings, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat.

Following his playing career, Pinckney has been an assistant coach for numerous franchises and just finished his third season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Jerusalem Post had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Pinckney, Goodman and Moshe Lebowitz, the CEO of Healables, during the camp to talk basketball, Israel, sports technology and much more.

“This is my first time in Israel and so far it’s been an amazing trip,” said a jovial Pinckney. “I feel very fortunate and lucky to be here together with my two sons. We’ve met so many amazing people.

“I’m here specifically for Tamir’s basketball camp as we’ve had a long-term basketball relationship. I followed his career when he was a young up-and-coming player, so it’s just a pleasure to come here and help him along with this project.”

The selection of Pinckney to come to Israel was the culmination of one of Goodman’s childhood hobbies.

“I had a nice basketball card collection as a kid that featured many NBA players,” said Goodman. “When I was 17 years old, I was invited to an NBA camp and Ed Pinckney was one of the coaches that was there and I remembered that I had his card. I went over to him after the game and I couldn’t believe how he had leaped off of this small basketball card and into my reality. He was incredibly nice and we stayed in touch over the years, especially while he was an assistant coach with the Bulls.”

Way before his time on the Bulls’ bench, however, Pinckney was a star on Villanova and battled against the best of the best college and NBA players, including a pair that were on the 1992 US Olympic Dream Team.

“Many of the guys I played against at the time, like Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing, are coaching now and we all share that time together when the Big East Conference was the place to play,” said the now 56-year-old. “Our coach Rollie Massimino was an amazing person and a fantastic coach who was able to take us to the top.”

Pinckney’s biggest rivals at the time have become his best friends.

“I speak to Ewing and Mullin all the time,” he noted. “It’s always fun to compare and contrast the style of play from back when we starred to the styles of today’s players, that’s what we talk about the most. It’s the never-ending battle of which era was better, which players were better.

Pinckney also compared the NBA Draft between then and now.

“I think there is more of a single mindedness today. Guys don’t stay in college more than one or two years. Back in the ’80s guys spent four years in college. There was more of a brotherhood back then in the sport. It’s always fun to talk about those times, but it’s a very different time right now. The game is different, and so is the mentality.

“When you look at the two of the top three draft picks this year, in Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, who know that they are the future of the league and they are the future of the game too. Both are excellent, skilled players who are very athletic, so the league is definitely in good hands.”

The beauty of an old-school player like Pinckney is the way he’s been able to adapt over time to the changes that continuously take place in the basketball world.

“It’s always a learning process because when I returned back to the game as a coach, the game had changed quite a bit. It was more guards-centric and more perimeter oriented so it’s always fun to continue to learn from different coaches and players.”

However, Pinckney’s ability to connect with the next generation is probably his biggest asset, as Lebowitz expounded upon.

“Coach Pinckney is a master educator and coach,” explained Lebowitz. “He’s well-respected, humble, kind and a good listener along with being an amazing role model. He brings the same energy and intensity to Tamir’s camp that he brings to the NBA as a coach. He inspires confidence in those around him and builds mentally and emotionally strong winners.”

Goodman echoed the sentiments.

“[Ed is] a special person and I am so happy I had him at camp as he represents the highest level of basketball knowledge, but at the same time he’s one of the nicest human beings you’ll ever meet. That’s exactly what I wanted my campers to see; someone who combines the two worlds. In order to be a great player, you have to be an even greater person, on and off of the court.”

Just as Pinckney has been able to adapt, so has Healables, which develops medical wearables that heal. ElectroGear, its first product, features an innovative micro-current knee sleeve that’s being developed right here in Jerusalem.

“Healables has game-changing technology that will help players get back on the court as quickly as possible,” noted Goodman, who retired from playing much earlier than anticipated. “My career ended with an injury and I have a special place in my heart for anything that can help players get back quicker, healthier and stronger.”

“In today’s day and age, when technology and science play a huge part in sports, we felt that it was important for tQQhe campers to learn a little bit about the cutting-edge medical and sports hi-tech innovation that is coming out of the start-up nation, Israel,” confirmed Lebowitz.

As the combination of sports, science and technology continues to make an impact on society at large, with Israel as a leading force, Pinckney sees how the past, present and future converge in the Holy Land. “I’ve had a great time here in Israel and it’s been an unbelievable experience,” said the former NBA hoopster. “Hopefully I will continue to come back for years and years to come.”

Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel sports adventures for tourists and residents (www.sportsrabbi.com). Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or feel free to contact the Sports Rabbi via email at sportsrabbi9@gmail.com.


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