Mizrahi 7th sports personality honored with Israel Prize

71-year-old Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball chairman will receive prestigious award during the upcoming 63rd Independence Day celebrations.

Basketball chairman Shimon Mizrahi 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Basketball chairman Shimon Mizrahi 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball chairman Shimon Mizrahi became the seventh person to be awarded the Israel Prize in sports on Wednesday.
The 71-year-old will receive the prestigious award together with the rest of the 2011 winners in the other disciplines during the upcoming 63rd Independence Day celebrations.
“I’m very happy and emotional,” Mizrahi said after hearing of the decision made by the Education Ministry’s jury, which included former Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball player Tal Brody, Olympic sprinter Esther Roth- Shachamarov and director of Israel’s Elite Sport Department, Gili Lostig.
“This is a mark of honor for 42 years of voluntary work.
This is in fact an award for Maccabi Tel Aviv as a whole. I have never done anything in order to receive an award, but it pleases me that I am appreciated and this gives me a lot of energy to continue this work for many more years.”
Mizrahi became a part of Maccabi’s management in the summer of 1969 after it went bankrupt despite being the most successful basketball club in the country. The then- 29-year-old quickly became the chairman, a position he still holds today, and revolutionized Maccabi, turning it into the country’s first professionally run club.
The team would go on to win 23 consecutive Israeli championships (1970-1992) and the European titles in 1977 and 1981 to cement its status as “Israel’s team.”
The yellow-and-blue was also crowned European champion in 2001, 2004 and 2005 and overall has won 38 championships, 30 State Cups and five European titles in Mizrahi’s time at the helm.
“Mizrahi created new standards of management in Israeli sport,” the Education Ministry’s jury wrote. “His voluntary activity over many years has brought many prestigious achievements to Israeli sports as a whole.”
Mizrahi joins Ya’akov Hodorov, Ralph Klein, Ian Froman, Yehoshua Rozin, Roth- Shachamarov and the Wingate Institute as a winner of the Israel Prize in sports.
“Everyone on the team is happy and proud of the recognition Mizrahi has gotten,” current Maccabi coach David Blatt said. “Shimon is not the type of person who talks about all the good thinks he does. He is a humble man and if anyone deserves this award it is him.”
Mizrahi has also built an international reputation as a top executive.
Three years ago his legendary influence in Israeli and European basketball was acknowledged by Time magazine when he was chosen by the well respected journal as one of the world’s 50 most prominent sports executives.