Letters to the Editor: May 5


Jewish Love of Basketball
I was very interested to read of National Basketball Association star Domantas Sabonis’ conversion to Judaism (NBA Star Domantas Sabonis’ Wife Says He is Converting to Judaism,” April 21). This reflects a long love affair between Jews and basketball. In the early half of the 20th century, basketball was considered the Jewish man’s game, and Jewish players dominated professional basketball. In the 1920s and 1930s, a team of Jews, the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association SPHAs dominated basketball, playing games throughout the East and Midwest as “The Wandering Jews.” They earned $5 a game which was big bucks for city kids in those days. Jews have also been deeply involved in basketball as college and professional players and coaches, and as team owners. Famous NBA players over the years include Neal Walk, Dolph Schayes, Larry Brown, Rudy LaRusso, Art Heyman and Max Zaslofsky. Tal Brody, an All-American player at the University of Illinois, in 1965 led the U.S. team to a gold medal at the Maccabiah Games.

Basketball Hall of Fame Jewish coaches Larry Brown, Red Holtzman and Red Auerbach led their teams to NBA championships, including an incredible nine titles for the Auerbach coached Boston Celtics. Other Jewish basketball notables are Maurice Podoloff, one of the founding fathers of the NBA; Abe Saperstein, founder and longtime owner of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters; and 1984-2014 NBA Commissioner David Stern who was followed by current Commissioner Adam Silver.

A popular saying is that it is easier for a Jewish boy to own an NBA team than play on an NBA team. This is borne out by the fact that while there is currently only one Jewish player, Deni Avdija, in the NBA, at least seven of the 30 NBA teams have Jewish owners.
Beryl Rosenstein, M.D.

In the April 28 issue of the Baltimore Jewish Times, the subject of the You Should Know piece’s name was spelled incorrectly. It should have been spelled Morgan Barker Hurwitz. The Baltimore Jewish Times regrets this error.

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