Don’t dare doubt Doron’s devotion to Israeli hoops

Sinai Says: The 1.75-meter guard has led the national team to three straight European Championships.

By
March 30, 2011 05:25
3 minute read.
Shay Doron

Shay Doron 311. (photo credit: FIBA Europe)

 
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Shay Doron will only be celebrating her 26th birthday on Friday, but she has already achieved more than most basketball players accomplish in an entire career.

After helping the University of Maryland to its first ever national title in 2006 and becoming the first Israeli to play in the WNBA the following year, Doron has lifted local basketball to unprecedented heights in recent seasons.

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The 1.75-meter guard has led the national team to three straight European Championships, with Israel making only two previous appearances in the EuroBasket tournament before she entered the scene.

Perhaps the crowning moment in her career came last Thursday, when she captained Elitzur Ramle to the Eurocup title, helping the club become the first Israeli women’s team to win a continental competition.

And to think Doron was labeled by some as not being Israeli enough just a few years ago.

Doron was born in Ramat Hasharon, but left the country three years later when her family moved to Long Island, New York. After being away for eight years the family returned to Israel and Doron joined Ramat Hasharon’s youth system. She soon stood out and was promoted to the side’s senior roster before her 16th birthday.

However, despite having a seemingly secure future in the local league, Doron and her family chose to leave everything behind and go to America in order to realize her dream of playing at the highest levels. She joined “Christ the King” High School in Queens, New York, the only Jewish girl among 1,800 students in the catholic school.

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But, indeed, that was the place to be to further her career, and Doron quickly excelled, becoming the first girl from New York to play on the McDonald’s All-American Team before joining Maryland upon graduation.

In 2005, she led the USA to the Maccabiah title, providing further proof for those who said that she is far more American than Israeli.

But for Doron there has never been any doubt.

She feels at home in both countries, but knows where she truly belongs.

“When I hear the US national anthem I don’t get goose bumps, but every time I hear Hatikva I get goose bumps and feel lucky that I can represent Israel,” Doron once said.

“No matter where I am in the world I can never feel as much as home as a Jew in Israel.”

Doron has always stepped up and lived up to her star status, both on and off the court.

When she injured her ankle in the first quarter of the first leg of the Eurocup final against Arras of France, it was a foregone conclusion that this true warrior would return and give her all.

She, of course, reentered the game in the second half after receiving an injection in the locker room and played a pivotal role in Ramle’s late comeback.

Two years ago, Doron also took an impressively bold step when she chose to speak out publicly about a benign tumor she had removed from her breast.

“I want to use basketball to try and affect girls that look up to me,” she said.

Doron was diagnosed with the tumor six years ago during her time in Maryland and vowed to help others with her experience after having it surgically removed three years ago.

“I wasn’t even 20 years old and I never thought that something like this could happen to me,” she said at the time. “I’m a strong athlete, but even with all my muscles I became nothing in one second.”

After leaving college, Doron sold memorabilia from her Maryland days on eBay, raising $8,000 that she donated to the fight against breast cancer.

Doron is only entering the prime of her career, but she has already guaranteed herself a place of honor among Israel’s greatest ever female athletes.

If she continues to make history at the current rate, she may even be remembered as one of the country’s all-time greats, male or female. Only time will tell what the future holds in store, however one thing is for sure. Nobody can ever brand Doron as not bleeding blue and white.

allon@jpost.com

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