Sporting Heroes for 60 Years: No. 4 Tal Brody

Israeli basketball was in its infancy in every way possible when Brody first signed with Maccabi in 1966.

"We're on the map and we're staying on the map, not just in sport, but in everything," said by Tal Brody after Maccabi Tel Aviv's victory over CSKA Moscow in 1977 is without a doubt Israeli sport's most celebrated quotation. Those famous words, however, almost overshadowed a truly amazing career, which has had an incalculable influence on Israeli basketball. "My career is split into two, the first part in the US and the second in Israel," Brody told the Jerusalem Post. "One of the highlights of my career in the states was winning the Big-10 title with the University of Illinois and being ranked as high as third in the country. I was also selected as one of the top 10 college players in the country by the Sporting News together with Bill Bradley, Rick Barry, Bill Cunningham and Jerry Sloan. "Being chosen for the US's national team for the World Championships and for the Maccabiah team was also a great honor. One more highlight is being picked 15th by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1965 NBA draft." Israeli basketball was in its infancy in every way possible when Brody first signed with Maccabi in 1966. "I accepted the challenge put before me during the 1965 Maccabiah [games] to help raise the level of Israeli basketball in general and Maccabi Tel Aviv in particular," he says. "Until then Maccabi had never progressed past the first stage of a European competition, so taking the team to the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in 1967 was a turning point. "Ten years later we reached the final of the European Championship for the first time and beat Mobilgirgi Varese, the team we lost to 10 years earlier in the Cup Winners Cup. "The 1977 final together with the victory over CSKA Moscow on course to the final were the most emotional moments of my career in Israel. "It was also a great honor to be the first sportsman to be awarded with the Israel prize. My winning opened the door for other people connected with sport to win the prize and was the first time Israel recognized sport as a contribution to the state." All in all Brody won 10 league championships with Maccabi and five State Cups. He also played 78 times for the Israel national team and took part in three European Championships.