Berkowitz, Mickey : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Berkowitz, Mickey

Moshe Berkowitz

Considered by many to be the greatest basketball player in Israel's history, Berkowitz was an important member of the Maccabi Tel Aviv teams that won the European Cup in 1977 and 1981. Prior to that, in 1975, Berkowitz became the first Israeli to play NCAA Division I basketball (at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas); he helped the Runnin' Rebels to a magnificent record of 28-1 and a No. 3 national ranking. Mickey had offers from the New Jersey Nets and Atlanta Hawks of the NBA in the early 1980s, but Maccabi Tel-Aviv would not release him from his contract.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Feb. 17, 1954

Career Highlights:
Berkowitz began his long and distinguished career with Maccabi Tel Aviv at the age of 11 when he joined the youth club. At the age of 15, he was playing for the junior squad. In 1971, at the age of 17, he made his debut with the senior team in Israel's top professional league.

Berkowitz traveled to the United States in 1975 and joined the basketball team at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. During the 1975-76 season, he played in 11 games and averaged 2.5 points per game as the Runnin' Rebels finished 28-1 and were the No. 1 seed in the Western Region of the NCAA tournament. They defeated Boise State, 103-78, in the first round, although Berkowitz registered no points and only one rebound. UNLV then lost to Arizona, 114-105, in the second round; Berkowitz did not play in the game.

Berkowitz returned to Israel following the 1975-76 season and played a considerable role in Maccabi Tel Aviv's fortunes during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1977, he helped the team win the European Cup by scoring 17 points in the final against Italian giant, Mobilgirgi Varese (78-77). Four seasons later, Maccabi Tel Aviv won the European Cup again, and also won the Israel 'double' by capturing the League title and the Israel Cup.

During his tenure at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Berkowitz was a member of the Israeli national team that won a gold medal at the 1974 Tehran Asian Games, and a silver medal at the 1979 European championships. He is second all-time in appearances (165) and points (2,842) as a member of the National Team. He also played professionally in Israel for Maccabi Rishon LeZion, Hapoel Jerusalem, and Hapoel Tel Aviv. He retired from professional basketball in 1996 and became the coach of Givat Shmuel in the Israeli National League.

Kfar Saba, Israel

Career Dates:
Berkowitz played forward at UNLV in 1975-76.

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Inside Sports Magazine: College Basketball, by Mike Douchant with Jim Nantz (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1997)