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(photo credit: courtesy)
After leading his teams to 10 championships in the Israeli Premier League, one New Jersey state high school title and a European championship in 1977 that in his words, "put Israel on the map," Tal Brody is looking for one more victory.
Yediot Aharonot reported on Monday that Brody had decided to run for Knesset with the Likud in the next general election. Brody told The Jerusalem Post he was leaning toward running, but he had not made a final decision about whether to give up his personal life in favor of a political world he did not know.
"I met with Bibi [Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu] and he wants people who haven't been involved in politics, who can contribute from different fields," Brody said. "I am happy that he turned to me. It's something I hadn't considered. I am considering it, because I could contribute on important topics I have been involved with for many years."
Since retiring from basketball, Brody has volunteered with many organizations, including the Spirit of Israel, which raises money for "vital human needs" as defined by the Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod, and Migdal Or, which helps at-risk, impoverished, orphaned and underprivileged children, and spoken around the world for the Foreign Ministry and American Jewish organizations, improving Israel's image abroad and encouraging aliya.
Brody, who was born in Trenton, could be the first New Jersey native in the Knesset since Marcia Freedman, who served from 1973 to 1977. The Likud's Anglo division had been searching for an Anglo to run on its behalf for the Knesset.
"It's very important that Anglos are represented," Brody said. "Our numbers have increased thanks to the Jewish Agency, Nefesh B'Nefesh and birthright-israel."
Brody, 63, said the time was right for him to shift careers after many years running a firm that manages employment benefits programs for companies. He said the Knesset was a good way to spend the third phase of his life after basketball and business.
"People can see from my track record that I am able to do a lot of things that others can't do, because I have been able to take advantage of my name," Brody said.
Last year, he took a group of basketball players who endured the Second Lebanon War from Nahariya to New Jersey. In 2005, he helped send high school students who had been evacuated from Gush Katif to a New Jersey high school for a semester.
When he played for the University of Illinois in 1965, he was named one of the top college players in the US. After he led the United States team to a gold medal in the 1965 Maccabiah games, he joined Maccabi Tel Aviv and made aliya five years later.
Brody led Maccabi to the European Cup Championship in 1977 after a stunning upset of CSKA Moscow, which had won the four previous European titles. He was awarded the Israel Prize in 1979. In 1996, he joined the Likud, where he is a supporter of Netanyahu.
Likud MK Yisrael Katz, who heads the party's governing secretariat, said more well-known people were on the way to the Likud. But he said the biggest names would only join ahead of the general election to maximize the impact.
Netanyahu said candidates would join from business, academia and the IDF. Names raised recently include former finance minister and ex-Likud member Dan Meridor, former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon and former IDF spokeswoman Brig.-Gen. Miri Regev.
"This is our ammunition for victory," Katz said. "And having Tal Brody in our faction will also help our faction's basketball team."