What do Shaquille O’Neal, Tom Kukoc and Moshe “Mickey” Berkowitz have in common? They are all being inducted into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame in September.
Berkowitz, 63, is widely regarded as Israel’s greatest-ever basketball player. He won 16 Israeli championships, 13 state cups and two European cups while playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard, whose name is often spelled “Miki Berkovich,” also led the Israeli national team to second place in the 1979 European championships.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “This is a great honor for Israel, for Israeli basketball, and for Mickey Berkowitz. I’m happy to have been given a place among the greatest basketball players of all time.”
The first Israeli to enter the FIBA Hall of Fame, in 2015, was journalist and former sports official Noah Klieger.
The 2017 induction ceremony will be held Sept. 30 at the House of Basketball in Mies, Switzerland. The building is shaped like a hand and can be seen from the sky when flying into Geneva’s airport.
In addition to O’Neal (United States) and Kukoc (Croatia), other former athletes to be inducted this year include Pero Cameron (New Zealand), Rajiza Mujanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Valdis Valters (Latvia) and Dusan Ivkovic (Serbia). This year’s inductees were selected from a list of 150 candidates.
Also entering the Hall of Fame this year is the “USA Dream Team” – the first-ever Olympic basketball team to feature active NBA players from the United States. Their FIBA honor comes 25 years since the Dream Team won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
The FIBA Hall of Fame has been honoring basketball’s greats since 2007. FIBA was founded in 1932 and is the governing body for 213 national basketball federations around the world.