tzvika sherf 88.
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One day after Yotam Halperin had his best game yet for the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA summer league, the battle between his agent and Israel national team coach Tzvika Sherf hit new heights.
"The Israeli national coach is a disgrace to basketball," Jason Levien told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Levien was responding to comments made by Sherf the day before, telling reporters that Halperin's agents had "lied" to and "murdered" the player by having him workout so much this summer. Sherf also said that he had been unable to get a hold of Halperin or Levien to discuss when and if the player would join the national team for its upcoming Eurobasket 2007 qualifying games.
Halperin, who went to a pre-draft camp in Italy and then participated in a series of private workouts with NBA teams right after his season with Slovenian side Olimpija Ljubljana ended, had virtually no break before starting to compete with the Sonics' summer league squad in Utah. The Sonics selected Halperin with the 53rd overall pick in this year's NBA Draft.
Levien defended his client's schedule by saying that he's following his dream. "Yotam has no guaranteed contract, but for [Sherf] to call Yotam everyday and badger him, saying that he has no chance to make it to the NBA is a disgrace," Levien said.
"Clearly he has a chance, and he's trying to live his dream, and do whatever it takes to make it a reality."
In response to the accusation that Levien was ducking and dodging Sherf's calls, Levien said it was just plain wrong. "I have called him each of the last two days and he hasn't returned my calls. He is a liar."
Levien feels it was selfish and self-centered of the Israeli coach to want Halperin to come play for the national team while he is trying to follow his dream. "Plus," Levien added, "why would he want Yotam on his team if he has no chance of making the NBA?
"We have the utmost respect for Israeli basketball, and it's a shame that the coach is acting this way," Levien said.
Sherf, when contacted Tuesday night, declined to comment on the situation.
Meanwhile Halperin has continued to show vast improvement in each game at the Rocky Mountain Revue in Salt Lake City. In Monday's game against the Utah Jazz, he started and scored 10 points and had seven assists, while turning the ball over only twice as Seattle won 76-75.
Additionally, Halperin was able to stay out of foul trouble - something that had been a problem for him in the first two games. In addition to leading the team in assists, Halperin's 38 minutes played were more than 10 minutes more than any other player on either team played.
While his "legs are tired," overall "he had a terrific game," Levien said. "He made some adjustments and is learning about the NBA."
Halperin's numbers should keep improving from here on out, as he continues to successfully find his shot, while leading the Sonics to more wins.
Halperin's story has also made the local media, as he continues to play despite the situation in Israel.
"When there is war in Israel, it is never easy," Halperin told the Salt Lake Tribune. "The last couple of days have been tough, with all the things going on. We hope it will get better and better. But you never know... Unfortunately, this is not something that is new for us."
Gordon Chiesa, an assistant on Seattle's coaching staff, said of Halperin, "He's a fun guy to be around, but can you imagine what's going through his mind? Here's a guy trying to make an NBA team and his country is under all-out, escalating firepower.
"It makes basketball very small - a very minute part of the universe."