Sinai Says: Out of control Pini must remember the ways of Moni

Sinai Says Out of contr

It took Pini Gershon a mere eight minutes on Sunday night to sully an international reputation Maccabi Tel Aviv spent decades building. The 57-year-old embarrassed himself, his club, and one can only hope not all of Israel by association, by inexplicably refusing to leave the floor after receiving two technical fouls during his team's 106-91 defeat to the New York Knicks in a charity game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. All of Maccabi's hard-fought efforts to establish itself globally as a well-respected European club were brushed aside in one full-blown eruption of petulance by its coach, turning the yellow-and blue into an intercontinental laughing stock. The bizarre farce only ended after Gershon finally succumbed to pleas from the referees, club chairman Shimon Mizrahi and even Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, founder and president of Migdal Ohr, the charity which benefited from the event. However, the damage had already been done and Maccabi was once more left with the dirty job of cleaning up after a Gershon-induced mess. There is no need to feel sorry for Tel Aviv though. The club has only itself to blame for allowing Gershon to put it in such situations time and again. Maccabi's decision to put winning basketball games ahead of everything else has seen it lose its identity, and just as importantly, its self respect. The sad thing is that Gershon's shenanigans on Sunday are just another price Tel Aviv is willing to pay in its perpetual chase of titles. While giving a lecture in November 2000, Gershon was caught on camera explaining the difference between the black players he had coached. He idiotically went on to distinguish between the cleverer, "mocha" players and their darker black brethren, who "do exactly what you tell them, just like slaves." Gershon - who was quick to apologize, explaining he had been misunderstood - left Maccabi at the end of that season. However, the fact that the club begged him to return two years later is a testament to what is really important at Maccabi - winning at all cost. Pini can seemingly do anything he likes at Maccabi, including humiliate the franchise internationally on multiple occasions, because the club's management believes he can guide Tel Aviv to the Euroleague Final Four once more. In their desperation to repeat past glories Maccabi's bosses are quick to forget that it was Tel Aviv's character and pride which made it so successful to start with. It is ironic that one of the symbols of the old Maccabi, former team manager Moni Fanan, made sure Gershon's antics were quickly forgotten. Fanan's tragic death on Monday put the coach's behavior in perspective, but also highlighted the change that Maccabi has undergone in the last decade. Long-serving chairman Shimon Mizrahi is the only remaining relic of the club the country fell in love with more than 30 years ago, and with every year that passes it is becoming clearer that those days are unlikely to return.   Maccabi achieved unparalleled glory not because it was the best-run club in Europe, but rather due to the boundless devotion of the likes of Mizrahi and Fanan. Gershon would have never been allowed to act as he did at the "Mecca of Basketball" on Sunday had those two still been the strongest people at the club.  Don't get me wrong, Mizrahi and Fanan were obsessed with seeing the team win. But they also understood that Maccabi stood for much more.  Fanan's untimely passing and Gershon's latest episode of foolishness were another reminder that all that remains from the old Maccabi is the infinite thirst for winning. Everything else has been left by the wayside and Israeli sports is much the worse for it.