Hapoel Tel Aviv 298.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
"The fans have developed a bad habit of booing us. That's not right; they should wait until the end of the game" - Meir Tapiro, captain, Hapoel Jerusalem, following the club's 85-75 home loss Tuesday night.
HUH? What did you say, Meir? No booing allowed during the game? Give us a break.
While Hapoel Jerusalem is certainly having a tough season - losing outstanding swing man Matan Naor for three months was particularly painful - Tapiro's lament after being part of a woeful, 10-point home loss to Khimki Moscow the other day is completely ridiculous.
First of all, Meir, the way Hapoel played, the players, the coach, and management should be happy they weren't tarred and feathered. Where is it written that an under-achieving group of highly paid professionals should not be booed by those who spend good money for seats, money that's used to pay those players' salaries?
We read that Hapoel forward Jurica Golemac had some angry exchanges with Hapoel fans and made a few nasty hand gestures in response to some sharp criticism from supporters. But while Golemac's frustration with his own play is clearly understandable, maybe instead of getting into it with the fans, he should mix it up a little more under the boards, or dunk that breakaway lay-up he missed in the game against Khimki.
Jerusalem fans have been among the most loyal in the Israeli sports world, traveling great distances to support their team. They've even continued cheering their club during regular drubbings by Maccabi Tel Aviv in most of their recent encounters of significance.
But while some Jerusalem fans have been complaining about a nasty new element becoming part of the pack of supporters who sit behind the Hapoel basket, it seems more likely that the booing is just the same kind Alex Rodriguez experienced in New York this past season when the Yankee third baseman failed to produce in the clutch. Sports fans have always been a "What have you done for me lately" bunch, and so far this season - with the exception of the impressive away win in Berlin - Hapoel hasn't done much at all.
Of course, booing just for booing's sake is as silly as Tapiro's remark. Even A-Rod deserved Yankee fans' support during his initial hard times - that is until his play became so dismal he admitted that "even I would boo me."
Wednesday night, Tapiro's club produced a sorry effort, however, with Khimki often getting two and even three shots on many possessions and Jerusalem players missing easy shots under the hoop. No wonder the Hapoel faithful - perhaps spoiled by that 2004 ULEB Cup title team, whose representative Kelly McCarty was playing for the other guys Tuesday night - expect so much more, and boo when they don't get it.
So Meir, face the facts: Sports fans, even the most supportive like yours, can only take so much sub-par play from their heroes. Then, they boo. If you don't like it, buy some ear plugs. Or better yet, you and your teammates could give Hapoel fans more to cheer about.