Legendary basketball coach Ralph Klein dies at 77

Holocaust surviver, who guided Maccabi Tel Aviv to European Championship title, loses battle with cancer.

Ralph klein 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ralph klein 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Legendary basketball coach Ralph Klein died Thursday morning at Tel Hashomer's Sheba Medical Center. The 77-year-old, widely regarded as Israel's greatest basketball coach, had been battling with cancer in recent years. Klein was born to a Hungarian family in Berlin. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, he fled with his family to Budapest. Klein's father was killed in Auschwitz, but the rest of the family was saved from the Nazis by Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish humanitarian sent to Budapest under diplomatic cover to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. Klein played for Maccabi Tel Aviv after coming to Israel in 1951 and in 1970, was appointed as the club's coach. His brightest moment as Maccabi coach came in the 1976/77 season when he guided the team to the European Championship title, claiming an historic victory over CSKA Moscow on the way. In 1979, he coached the Israeli national team to its greatest achievement, second place in the European Championship. He coached several other teams, including the German national side. Klein's funeral procession will leave from the Nokia Arena on Friday at 10.30 a.m..