Berkowitz, Brody talk with 'Post' on Bynum scandel

Former Maccabi stars share their thoughts on how affair will affect club.

bynum 88 (photo credit: )
bynum 88
(photo credit: )
Former Maccabi Tel Aviv star Mickey Berkowitz has warned that the Will Bynum controversy is likely to have a negative impact on the team's play. Even though Maccabi had no problems overcoming Hapoel Galil Elyon in the State Cup quarterfinals on Sunday, a day after Bynum was arrested for his alleged involvement in a hit and run incident, Berkowitz insisted the situation has ensured that the coming weeks will not be easy for the perennial champs. "I think the media has created such pressure on the club that it obviously affects the way the team is run and the way the players play," said Berkowitz, who was a key member of the legendary Tel Aviv team which won the club's first European championship in 1977 and then again in 1981."I believe this will hurt the team, but only time will tell how much," he told The Jerusalem Post. Bynum, an ex-Golden State Warrior, was released to house arrest on Monday and participated in his first training session with Maccabi on Tuesday. Tel Aviv hosts Unicaja Malaga in the Euroleague on Thursday and then Maccabi Rishon Lezion in the BSL on Sunday. Berkowitz said he believed the incident "doesn't do any good for the club," but Tal Brody, another ex-Maccabi star who played for the club in the 1970s and 80s, disagreed with his former teammate. "I don't think Will's incident will have anything to do with the future of the team," Brody said. "The players are professionals. Everybody feels very bad about Will, but the team is recuperating from a very bad first half of the season. The team is playing much better in the last couple of games, with a lot more self confidence." It is not the first time a Maccabi player has become embroiled in a controversial situation. American Aulcie Perry, who was later imprisoned for drug dealing in the US, missed at least one European game in the 1980s after allegedly using drugs. "In my time players also had problems and the organization knew how to handle them and make the most of the players and even win the European championship," Berkowitz said. "Nobody can control what a player does in his private life." Brody agreed. " Ninety nine percent of the players who come to Israel enjoy themselves and are not looking to get themselves into any trouble, but sometimes trouble finds you," he said. "Maccabi is a very disciplined club. I don't think things have changed that much since my time as a player. I don't think this is an epidemic. The players have to self-discipline themselves." Berkowitz added that the Maccabi management "is so experienced and has been through so much that I'm sure they will make the right decisions. Maccabi has a very deep roster and on any given day there's at least one player who can step up and make up for Bynum's absence." Maccabi is known as "Israel's team" and watching the Thursday night Euroleague games has become a weekly ritual for much of the country. There have been concerns that the Bynum situation could turn some fans off, but Brody said he felt this is unlikely."I don't think it has anything to do with Maccabi's image. It's just one incident." Brody also commented on Bynum himself. "Will doesn't have a background of violence and this is a very unpredictable situation," he said. "Everybody knows Will is a moderate tempered person, a respectable person and a very likeable person. I'm very sorry that he got himself into this type of situation and I hope everything comes out well for all the sides involved." Berkowitz admitted that "I can't judge what's happened, because even the police don't yet know what unfolded. It's not fair to judge Will before we know exactly what happened."