Bluthenthal, David : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Bluthenthal, David

One of the best Jewish college basketball players in recent history, this versatile 6'7" small forward starred at the University of Southern California from 1999-2002, then joined Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel, and finally signed with the Sacramento Kings on August 7, 2004 but was released in November of that year. Bluthenthal said the decision to leave Maccabi Tel-Aviv was a difficult one but "the NBA is a dream, and I have always wanted to play with the best. Still, I love Israel and the last two years at Maccabi Tel-Aviv were the best of my life."

On January 26, 2005 the forward signed with Benetton Treviso, the leaders of the Italian League. Thus Bluthenthal has returned to the elite of European basketball. Treviso is first place in the Italian league as of February 17, 2005 with a 19-3 record. In one of his first games, against Scavolini Pesaro on February 13, Bluthenthal scored 23 points and made 5 of 6 three point shots.

Bluthenthal played with the Israeli powerhouse in 2002-03 and in 2003-04, when Maccabi Tel-Aviv won its fourth European Cup with a 118-74 demolition of Skipper Bologna in the final of the European Super-League. The 44 point victory margin is the most lopsided ever in a Euro final. Bluthenthal scored 20 points on 8-10 shooting (including 4-5 from 3-point range) in only 17 minutes in the contest. In the Israel League, David played in 21 of 22 regular season games and averaged 10.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.5 steals, and 0.7 assists per game. Maccabi finished the regular season in first place with a record of 19-3, and won the national title in 2003-04.

A member of the U.S. basketball team at the 1997 Maccabiah Games, Bluthenthal said, "I really fell in love with Israel and decided to play here if I couldn't make it to the NBA. I figured as long as I'm coming here, it would be good to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv because they are the best." Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt said of his new player, "It's hard to find a better outside was impossible to turn down a player like David who has the potential to be an impact player and have a lifetime career at Maccabi..."

An outstanding three-point shooter and aggressive rebounder, he helped lead the USC Trojans to two straight 20-win seasons and the Elite Eight in the 2001 NCAA tournament (he was named to the All-East Regional team). A three-year starter, Bluthenthal was twice named All-Pac 10 honorable mention (2000 and 2002), led the conference in rebounding as a sophomore in 2000, and set a conference record by making 41 consecutive free throws. He finished his career at USC among the school's all-time leaders in scoring with 1,313 points (12th), steals with 116 (sixth), three-pointers made (171), and tied for the single-game rebounding record (28). Bluthenthal's great-great-great-grandfather Isaias Hellman was one of three donors of the land where USC is situated in Los Angeles.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. July 18, 1980

Career Highlights:
The son of a Jewish mother and an African-American father (who converted to Judaism), Bluthenthal grew up in Los Angeles wanting to play at UCLA, but his father convinced him to attend USC. After a mediocre freshman year, Bluthenthal was one of the surprises of the 1999-2000 Pac-10 season. David started 29 of 30 games at small forward and was named All-Pac-10 honorable mention after scoring 13.9 points, and gathering 8.3 rebounds per game -- third best in the conference.

During the season, Bluthenthal also tied the school's single-game rebounding record with 28 rebounds (against Arizona State), and his season total of 250 rebounds ranked him 14th all-time in USC history. David was also the Trojans' leading free throw shooter, making 74 of 88 (.841, fifth best in the Pac-10 and fifth best in USC history). It was during the conference season that David excelled though, as he became the first player in Pac-10 history to lead the league in rebounding and free throw shooting in conference games.

In 2000-01, during his junior year, David continued to improve and became one of the top players in the Pac-10. He appeared in all 30 regular season games and had a terrific conference season, averaging 13.3 points (14th in the conference), 6.9 rebounds (11th in conference), 1.6 steals (7th in conference), and was 17th in 3-point percentage (56 for 143, for a .392 percentage). During the season, he broke the Pac-10 record for consecutive made free throws in conference games with 42 (the record was broken by Stanford's Ryan Mendez later in the year). The Trojans finished the season with a record of 21-9 (11-7, fourth in the Pac-10) and a No. 6 seed in the East Region of the NCAA tournament.

Bluthenthal had an outstanding 2001 NCAA Tournament, as he led the Trojans to their first Elite Eight appearance since 1954. Bluthenthal showed his shooting touch in the tournament, averaging 16.0 points per game, and the Trojans upset No. 3 Boston College and No. 2 Kentucky. With the win over Kentucky, USC tied the school record of 24 wins in a season, but their dream of a Final Four appearance fell short in the East Regional Final against mighty Duke. Bluthenthal had another great game with 17 points and 13 rebounds (tying his season high), but the Blue Devils proved to be too much for the Trojans, who lost the match, 79-69.

In 2001-02, his senior season, Bluthenthal was named All-Pac 10 honorable mention. He averaged 12.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game, while giving the Trojans a second option to Pac 10 Player of the Year Sam Clancy during the season. They finished 12-6, fourth in the conference (22-9 overall), and then advanced to the Pac 10 tournament final before losing to Arizona, 81-71 (Bluthenthal led the team with 16 points).

On the strength of their second consecutive 20-win season, USC received a No. 4 seed in the South Region, and were considered a serious challenger to No. 1 Duke in the Region. In the first round, however, the Trojans were shocked by No. 13 seed UNC-Wilmington and lost, 93-89, in overtime after falling behind by 19 points in the second half; Bluthenthal scored 19 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds before fouling out in the overtime.

After graduating from USC, Bluthenthal made the move to professional basketball, joining Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv. During the 2002-03 season, Maccabi won the Israel League title with 52 points and a 25-2 record. In the EuroLeague, they finished fifth in the group stage and then reached the quarterfinals but not the Final Four.

Los Angeles, California

Career Dates:
Bluthenthal played small forward for the University of Southern California from 1999-2002.

Physical description:
6'7", 215 pounds

Use links below to navigate through the basketball section of Jews In Sports.

< PreviousNext >

Jewish Sports Review, July-August 1997 issue (Volume 1, Number 2)