Henefeld, Nadav : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Henefeld, Nadav

Henefeld is unquestionably the greatest Israeli defensive player of all time. He was chosen by "EuroBasket" magazine as the best defensive player in European Basketball history. Though less famed as a scorer, he also compiled remarkably accurate shooting percentages during his illustrious career. Often misused by his coaches, and even mistreated, Nadav is nonetheless a legend of Israeli basketball, and is certain to remain one.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. June 19, 1968

Career Highlights:
Nadav was a very promising youngster at Ramat Hasharon and was a contributor to their 1985-86 season. He was then shipped to Hapoel Galil Elyon, a team that would become notable for raising top- notch youngsters. Henefeld, Doron Sheffer, and Oded Katash were just some of Galil's graduates. Henefeld helped Galil to the 1987-88 State Cup, scoring 349 points along the way.

Instead of going straight to Maccabi Tel Aviv, as did many promising Israeli players, Henefeld insted came to America and joined Coach Jim Calhoun's University of Connecticut squad. In 1989-90, Nadav helped lead the Huskies to a 31-6 record, the Big East title, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and into the national spotlight. Henefeld averaged 11.6 points per game in the tourney, and the Huskies reached the Elite Eight before falling to Duke, 79-78, in overtime on Christian Laettner's last-second shot. During the regular season, Nadav averaged 29.5 minutes, 11.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 3.7 steals per game, setting the NCAA freshman record for steals in a season (with 138) as he earned the nickname "The Gaza Stripper," and was named Big East Newcomer of the Year. Nadav's three-point shooting ability was particularly notable; he hit on 43 outside shots in 114 attempts (a 37.7 percentage). He would never shoot threes that often again, despite his obvious ability to do so.

Despite a spectacularly successful year abroad, Nadav returned to Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv just in time for the 1990-91 season. Unfortunately, that Tel Aviv team was poorly designed; the team was constructed around Doron Jamchy, a gifted but selfish three-point shooter. Jamchy rarely passed the ball, so his teammates were left out of any offensive flow. Henefeld, the consummate team player, picked up the slack. Nadav did much of the unglamorous work required for the team to win, thus setting a pattern that would last throughout his career in Israel. He scored 11.3 points a game, pulling down 3.8 rebounds and contributing 1.8 assists, as Maccabi won both the championship and the State Cup despite the team's limitations.

In 1991-92, the Maccabi did well in Europe, but not well enough, due to their overreliance on Jamchy. They did win another Israeli championship, although Henefeld was increasingly held back offensively; he averaged only 8.3 ppg, although his field goal percentage was as high as ever at 62.7%. However, Nadav was fast becoming the greatest defensive machine Israel had ever seen. He became known for reducing great players into scoreless wrecks.

The next season was a catastrophe for Maccabi. For the first time since the late 60's, they lost the championship. Doron Sheffer's magnificent Hapoel Galil Elyion team defeated a bungling, mismanaged Tel Aviv in the semifinals. In the desperation of that season, Henefeld came out fighting. Nadav was the only player on that team to excel: he scored 11.7 points on 65.9% shooting, while notching 5.8 rebounds.

Coach Muli Katzurin was brought in to rebuild the fallen empire for the 1993-94 season. At last, Henefeld had an ally and confidant at the helm. Katzurin used the power forward creatively, letting him shoot and pass more often. Nadav was even used as a guard on occasion (he did suprisingly well due to his passing abilities). Maccabi claimed the championship, with Nadav leading the league with a staggering 72.4% success rate from the field.

Maccabi drafted the powerful Serbian center Radisav Curcic for the 94-95 season. Curcic dominated the paint with his girth, and once again Nadav was relegated to defensive duties. The team meshed well during the season, winning both cup and championship, but the "Gaza Stripper" went down to 9.2 ppg. Curcic was still there the next year, and Nadav remained in the same supporting role, which he filled flawlessly, allowing for another championship.

Jamchy was thrown out of Maccabi before the 1996-97 season, and Nadav became captain of Maccabi. Many thought that Henefeld would finally be given his rightful place in the offensive setup. The Croatian Vinco Yelovatz was handed the coaching reins to a squad that was very well balanced -- on paper. Yelovatz developed a co-dependent relationship with the up-and-coming Oded Katash. The rest of the team stared in disbelief as Katash took shot after shot. Oded was good enough to lead the team to the Israeli championship, but in Europe, the squad crashed and burned.

Amazingly, 1997-98 was even worse for Nadav. Randy White, an overweight, egocentric American player, was signed to play power forward, while Henefeld was shifted to an unnatural small forward position. Still, Nadav led the league in shooting percentage (at 67.5%).

In 1998-99, Rashard Griffith was brought in, and Nadav was often benched. The Tel Aviv defense suffered accordingly, until Nadav was reinstated into the starting five. Henefeld was at an all-time high defensively, and was recognized as the best defensive player in Europe by the continental press. Maccabi won the league and cup double that year.

The 1999-2000 Maccabi Tel Aviv season was a good one for Henefeld. Controversial coach Pini Gershon was signed, and Henefeld was given more of a free role. Maccabi not only won the league and cup double again, but finally fulfilled their European potential. They reached the Euroleague final, losing there to Panathinaikos. Ironically, the crucial basket for the Greek team was scored by their imported star --Oded Katash.

In 2000-01, Maccabi won the Suproleague trophy. They could not have done it without Nadav's leadership as captain, and his unyielding defense. Maccabi also won the league and cup double.

During the 2001-02 season, Nadav was benched often and looked out of sorts. At the end of the year, he asked for a raise and was turned down. Tired of being treated unfairly by Maccabi, he announced he was leaving. Two months later he retired. Though never known as a prolific scorer, Henefeld retired with 2,892 Israeli points to his credit, placing him 65th on the all time list.

Nadav was also captain of the Israeli national team for many years.


Career Dates:
Henefeld played forward at the University of Connecticut from 1989-90.

He also played for Maccabi Tel Aviv from 1990-2002.

Power forward

Physical description:

Career Statistics:
89/90: 11.6 ppg, 5.6 reb, 2.9 ast

90/91: 11.3 ppg, 3.8 reb, 1.8 ast

91/92: 8.3 ppg, 3.1 reb, 1.9 ast

92/93: 11.7 ppg, 5.8 reb, 2.6 ast

93/94: 11.5 ppg, 4.4 reb, 2.0 ast

94/95: 9.2 ppg, 4.6 reb, 2.4 ast

95/96: 9.0 ppg, 4.6 reb, 2.2 ast

96/97: 10.9 ppg, 2.8 reb, 2.5 ast

97/98: 8.0 ppg, 4.0 reb, 2.2 ast

98/99: 8.5 ppg, 4.4 reb, 2.3 ast

99/00: 9.4 ppg, 4.3 reb, 2.4 ast

00/01: 8.9 ppg, 3.9 reb, 2.1 ast

01/02: 4.5, ppg, 3.7 reb, 1.9 ast

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