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2017 Class of FIBA Hall of Fame: Mickey Berkowitz

MIES (FIBA Hall of Fame) - Mickey Berkowitz, a legend of Israeli basketball, is being honored with induction to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017.

Berkowitz, one of the biggest names in European basketball history, is among six former players being enshrined into the Hall of Fame, alongside Shaquille O'Neal (United States), Tony Kukoc (Croatia), Pero Cameron (New Zealand), Razija Mujanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Valdis Valters (Latvia). Joining them is coaching great Dusan Ivkovic (Serbia) and the Dream Team, arguably the greatest international team of all time. They were selected from a list of more than 150 candidates.

The native of Kfar Saba carried the torch for the sport in his homeland for a long time, leading it to many of its finest moments.

At the EuroBasket in 1979, which was staged in Italy, Berkowitz averaged an eye-popping 23.6 points per game as Israel claimed a silver medal - the highest achievement for the country heading into the 2017 international basketball calendar. He had a crucial 17 points in Israel's 77-76 victory over defending champions Yugoslavia, who were also the reigning world champions. Berkowitz was named as the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

In 1974, Berkowitz and Israel reached the top of the podium at the Asia Games.

On the domestic front, Berkowitz had no equals in Israel. He spent the majority of his career as the leading light of Maccabi Tel Aviv, a club he won 16 Israeli Championships with and two EuroLeague titles from 1971-88.

Berkowitz was always winning something, be it leagues, cups or individual accolades.
Five times he was a European All-Star.

He also suited up for Maccabi Rishon LeZion (1988–1993), Hapoel Jerusalem (1993–1994) and Hapoel Tel Aviv (1994–1995).

While Berkowitz was renowned for his scoring, the fans watched in awe when he was on the hardwood for other reasons. He had cat-like quickness and was able to drive into the lane at will. He was a constant menace for opponents, including on defense where he always wrought havoc by coming up with steals.

Berkowitz seemed to have a knack for knowing how a play would develop and would make the pass that would lead to another pass that would lead to a basket. He was often first to the loose balls or rebounds.

If a game hung in the balance and the final seconds were ticking off the clock, his teammates without fail looked for Berkowitz and attempted to get him the ball. He was fearless and always took responsibility in the most difficult moments of competition.

When told that he was to be included in the FIBA Hall of Fame, making him the first Israeli basketball player to enter, Berkowitz beamed with pride.

"I'm really excited," he said in the Jerusalem Post. "This is a great honor for Israel, for Israeli basketball and for Mickey Berkowitz. I couldn't believe it at first. I'm happy to have been given a place among the greatest basketball players of all time."

Name Mickey Berkowitz
Category of Inductee Player
Date of birth February 17, 1954
Place of birth Kfar Saba, Israel
Nationality Israel
Height 6ft 4in (1.93m)
  • Maccabi Tel Aviv (1971-1988)
  • Maccabi Rishon LeZion (1988-1993)
  • Hapoel Jerusalem (1993-1994)
  • Hapoel Tel Aviv (1994-1995)
Club highlights
  • 16-time National Israeli Basketball league champion
  • 13-time Israel Cup champion
  • 2-time Euroleague champion (1977 and 1981)
National team highlights
  • European Championship runner-up (1979)
  • Asian Games gold medalist (1974)
Individual highlights
  • 5-time European All Star (1978, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1995)
  • EuroBasket MVP (1979)
  • FIBA's 50 Greatest Players (1991)
  • Israel's sportsman of the jubilee (1948-1998)
  • 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors (2008)

The 2017 Class of the FIBA Hall of Fame will be inducted during a special ceremony at the House of Basketball - the headquarters of basketball's world governing body on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland - on Saturday September 30.