LeBron circus, ex-coach’s NBA debut make Maccabi Tel Aviv a sideshow vs. Cavs

LeBron James, shown at the Cleveland Cavaliers' media day in suburban Cleveland on Sept. 26, 2014, will make his return to his hometown team with a preseason game against Maccabi Tel Aviv. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV (JTA) – The carnival’s coming to Cleveland, and the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team has a front-row seat. In fact, the 2014 Euroleague and Israel Super Basketball League champions will be participating. On Sunday, Tel Aviv will present the inaugural challenge for NBA superstar LeBron James as… Read more »

For Israeli tennis ace Andy Ram and ‘home’ crowd in Fla., a finale to remember

Israel's Andy Ram sprawled on the court following his five-set doubles victory with partner Yoni Erlich, holding racket, against Argentina in a Davis Cup match in Sunrise, Fla., Sept. 13, 2014. (Andrea Eidman)

SUNRISE, Fla. (JTA) – It wasn’t Tel Aviv, but thousands of people chanting his name at a Davis Cup match following a grueling victory was a pretty good way for Israel’s Andy Ram to leave the game oftennis to which he had devoted more than half his life. Ram, 34,… Read more »

For female coach of Y.U. men’s team, biggest adjustment may be learning Jewish ways

Jacqui Dauphinais, second from left, was an assistant coach last season for the Yeshiva University men's volleyball team that won its conference championship. (Adena Stevens/Yeshiva University)

(JTA) – Having been a standout player in high school and college, and an assistant coach, new Yeshiva University men’s volleyball coach Jacqui Dauphinais has plenty of knowledge about the sport. And in her one season as an assistant for the Maccabees, she showed she wasn’t afraid to speak… Read more »

Blockers and tacklers: Jewish gridders gearing up for NFL campaign

Erik Lorig, in his fifth NFL season, has moved to the New Orleans Saints after playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Courtesy New Orleans Saints)

BALTIMORE (JTA) – Blocking brothers, a college star seeking success in the pros, a fullback who hasn’t had a carry in four seasons and a couple of ace special teamers are among the Jewish players on NFL rosters as the league kicks off this week. A punter may join… Read more »

Shalom to the enshrined: Cooperstown’s Jewish mayor, Hall of Fame chief greeting baseball’s elite

Jeff Idelson, director of the the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, holding a bat used by Jewish Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame)

BALTIMORE (JTA) – For Jeff Idelson, the director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., induction weekend is all about teamwork. “When you get to signature events you’re in a small community, all the pieces have to come together effectively for it to be a… Read more »

For a trailblazing Israeli lacrosse squad, a pioneer in the nets

Andrew Goldstein, a member of Israel’s national lacrosse team, says “the landscape has really changed” for gay athletes since he came out in 2005. (Larry Palumbo)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — In the years after coming out as gay, lacrosse player Andrew Goldstein recalls being asked on panel discussions whether major American professional sports leagues would include openly gay athletes. It’s a question, Goldstein said, that is no longer relevant with Jason Collins in the National Basketball… Read more »

David Blatt riding Tel Aviv’s Euro title to NBA dream job

After coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv to a European Championship, David Blatt appears headed to the NBA. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

  LOS ANGELES (JTA) — In 1981, David Blatt moved to Israel in pursuit of a path of lifelong worship — to play professional basketball.Now, more than 30 years later, Blatt is leaving Israel to make a different, and totally unprecedented, form of aliyah — to leave the ranks of Israeli basketball to… Read more »

At World Cup, Argentina couple kicking Jewishness into high gear

Left to right, Mariano Schlez and Paola Salem, with Damian Beker and Maxi Klein, organized efforts to bring together Jewish Soccer fans at the World Cup's seven sites in Brazil. (Courtesy Paola Salem)

(JTA) – When Argentina plays its opening-round matches in the World Cup, Mariano Schlez of Buenos Aires will be screaming his support from the stands. But taking in his home country’s matches in Brazil isn’t all that will be occupying Schlez for the first fortnight of the monthlong soccer… Read more »

Diamond minds: Baseball bonds generations of Shapiros

ABERDEEN, Md.  (JTA) – Standing on a hill on a glorious Sunday morning, Mark and Ron Shapiro are kvelling as they watch Caden Shapiro – son of Mark and grandson of Ron – pitching in a baseball tournament in this city near Baltimore after having been shelved for nearly… Read more »

Echoes of Greenberg: Tigers roaring with Jewish duo Ausmus and Kinsler

Ian Kinsler is thriving in Detroit after being traded from the Texas Rangers. (Hillel Kutler, JTA)

The rarity arose in the initial meeting of first-year Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and his second baseman Ian Kinsler, newly traded from the Texas Rangers: a Jewish player reporting to a Jewish manager. Ausmus was “raised the same way I was,” Kinsler learned, with one Jewish parent and… Read more »

An Israeli Olympic equestrian? Danielle Goldstein aims for Rio Games

Equestrian show jumper and Olympic hopeful Danielle Goldstein practicing her routine in central Israel, May 12, 2014. (Ben Sales)

YAGUR, Israel (JTA) — The crowd was sparse and admission was free. Pop music from 10 years ago blared from loudspeakers. A few families sat on bleachers near the athletes, who hopped over a low fence when it was time to compete. The Israeli Equestrian Championships wasn’t the most… Read more »

For Astros’ Josh Zeid, road to ‘The Show’ has been an excellent adventure

Josh Zeid: "There’s no better place, if you’re a young player, to be than the Houston Astros." (Hillel Kuttler)

BALTIMORE (JTA) – For Houston Astros pitcher Josh Zeid, a recent game against the Baltimore Orioles provided a microcosm of his up-and-down tenure in organized baseball and with the club over the past several months. Entering a 2-2 game in the seventh inning, with two runners on and two… Read more »

Out of N.Y., optimistic Ike Davis hoping to right his ship with Pirates

Ike Davis, on overcoming his hitting woes, says, "You've just got to put your head down and grind." (Hillel Kuttler)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — Ike Davis was upbeat despite the rain pelting the Camden Yards turf and his struggles at the plate. The new Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman was playing catch with teammate Josh Harrison when music from the loudspeakers sent him into a dancing whir. Harrison couldn’t stop giggling.… Read more »

Maccabi Tel Aviv in the NBA? It may not be a hoop dream

Might the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team someday be lifting the nBA championship trophy, as its players and others did here after winning the 2012 Israeli Basketball Super League title? (Flash 90)

BALTIMORE (JTA) – Maccabi Tel Aviv reportedly is heading back to the United States this fall for its first exhibition games against NBA teams in five years – but greater developments appear to be in the works for the iconic franchise and Israeli basketball. For one, how about NBA… Read more »

At Wrigley Field, Orthodox vendors going the way of Cubs wins

(JTA) — Longtime fans of the Chicago Cubs know there are a few mainstays they can expect when they visit Wrigley Field: ivy on the outfield walls, a strict no-wave policy rigorously enforced by fans and, most days, disappointing play by the hometown team. But there’s one little-known quirk… Read more »

Braun’s back, Kinsler’s in Detroit and other Jewish Major Leaguers

BALTIMORE (JTA) – In the biblical tradition of lingering in the desert en route to the Promised Land, Major League Baseball teams are packing up and embarking on their exodus from Arizona (and Florida) spring training sites to begin the new season. Rosters won’t be finalized until this weekend,… Read more »

Contrite Bruce Pearl bringing his spirited style to Auburn basketball

New auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl engulfed by adoring fans upon arriving at the Auburn University Regional Airport on his 54th birthday, March 18, 2014. (Courtesy Auburn University/Zach Bland)

BALTIMORE (JTA) — Shortly after assembling the players trying out for the American squad he’d be coaching at the 2009 Maccabiah Games, Bruce Pearl brought them to Sabbath evening services at the Heska Amuna Synagogue in Knoxville, Tenn. The passionate and gregarious Pearl, a veteran of reading the haftarah… Read more »

Philly historian scores in bid to have NBA pioneer Eddie Gottlieb honored

Owner Eddie Gottlieb, left, celebrating the Philadelphia Warriors winning the 1955-56 NBA championship. (Courtesy NBA Photos)

PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — Celeste Morello isn’t Jewish or a sports fan, and has never attended a professional basketball game. But a passion for history — particularly Philadelphia history — prompted her to seek recognition for the hoops pioneer Eddie Gottlieb. Morello succeeded last week when the Pennsylvania Historical and… Read more »

For Stan Fischler, ‘The Hockey Maven,’ it’s all about the game — and Israel, too

Stan Fischler is flanked by producer Glenn Petraitis, left, and co-host Peter Ruttgaizer at the Nassau Coliseum set of their pregame and postgame shows. (Hillel Kuttler)

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (JTA) – As the Boston Bruins buzz the Islanders net throughout the opening period of a game at the Nassau Coliseum, Stan Fischler is standing 10 feet behind the Plexiglas to the left of New York goaltender Kevin Poulin. Fischler, a hockey broadcaster for four decades, can… Read more »