Larry Brown in his ABA days
Nancy Lieberman earned the nickname “Lady Magic.”
March 12, 2009
March Madness — aka the NCAA Basketball Tournament — doesn’t start in earnest for a couple of weeks, so what does a nice Jewish fan do to bide the time?
Let’s go to the videotape…er, the DVD.
The Jewish Basketball Hall of Fame, Volume 1, produced by Jewish Pride Sports Heroes LLC, contains rare footage and narrative about some of the greatest college, pro, and Israeli players to hit the hardwood. In grainy black and white and washed-out color that offer a “you-are-there” feel for the respective eras, viewers can relive the exploits of such greats as Dolph Schayes, Neal Walk, Lennie Rosenbluth, Ernie Grunfeld, Nancy Lieberman, and many more. Directed by Steven Bass, the 112-minute film is narrated by Steve Malzberg and features the voices of Marty Glickman and Mel Allen and commentary by Chuck Hearn and Fred Schaus.
It took four years for producer Yisrael Lifschutz to gather videos of the players. He contacted universities and long-retired college coaches who still had reels of decades-old game footage tucked away in their basements. He also made two trips to Israel, where the Israel Basketball Association provided him with film of local stars like Tal Brody (Lifschutz himself was once a star for Hebrew University).
“It was a great experience,” he told NJ Jewish News in a phone interview. “Unfortunately, we ran out of gelt, but we found an angel who helped us finish it.”
The main purpose behind the project was to teach young people the role Jews had in popularizing the sport. Basketball was a favorite in settlement houses and Jewish community centers around the country going back to the early 1900s.
“What we did was not so much create a documentary as a document. It’s unknown to so many young people today that Jews had a tremendous hand in the sport,” said Lifschutz, who has served as a consultant on several feature films and is currently working on HAG, the story of the Hasidic Actors’ Guild. “They don’t realize that a great coach like Larry Brown was a great player, too.
“Certainly, the older guys would probably have a better recollection [of the players],” said Lifschutz, 66. “It’s a trip back into nostalgia. I was watching these guys when I was a kid.”
For more information, visit www.jewishhoopstars.com.