The Year 2012 In Sports

noam gershony

Noam Gershoni

2012 was a year full of highs and lows for Jewish sports and athletes. Here are the ones that stood out, for better and for worse, in this athletic year.
A Year to Remember
Aly Raisman will remember 2012 as the year she won the Olympic Gold at the London Games, and became America’s sweetheart. Raisman chose the Jewish song “Hava Nagila” as her floor routine soundtrack, and became not only the first American to win the gold medal on the floor, but a role model for Jewish girls as well. The young gymnast also dedicated her medal to the 11 Israelis athletes that were murdered at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
2012 is a year that Micky Arison will never forget – how could he forget his first NBA Championship? American-Israeli owner of the Miami Heat poured money into the team, bringing Lebron James down to Miami, giving Coach Erik Spoelstra endless credit, and ended up earning credit from fans and commentators for making smart business decisions that led to an NBA ring.
Noam Gershoni, winner of two medals at this year’s Paralympic Games, is another Jewish athlete that will remember this year fondly. The former IDF pilot was severely wounded in a helicopter crash during the Second Lebanon War, and began playing tennis on a wheelchair as part of his rehabilitation, starting to compete in the sport just two years ago. He achieved Israel’s only gold medal this year. Gersoni’s second medal (Bronze) was with his doubles partner Shraga Weinberg.
Young Jewish boxer Dmitri Salita made a name for himself in the passing year – and it looks like he is here to stay. Salita is the first ever Orthodox Jewish pro-boxer, and drew attention to himself in 2012 for his athletic achievements in his sport, but also because of his faith – so unusual to the boxing world. Salita, who resides in Brooklyn, was honored with an exhibition telling his story at the Russian Jewish Tolerance Museum in Moscow, and most recently was part of an Orthodox All-Stars list, next to Senator Joe Lieberman.
A Year to Forget
Omri Casspi will most likely want to forget the year 2012, or at least the NBA season that started in the fall, the Israeli native’s fourth season in the league. Casspi has had more DNP (Did Not Play) games in the first part of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season than in his whole career.
The first Israeli to play in the NBA was traded to Cleveland at the end of the 2010-2011 season by Sacramento, which had drafted him in 2009 at the #23 spot of the first round. In Cleveland, under Coach Byron Scott, Casspi has yet to find his place on the team, or to understand Scott’s system and rhythm – leaving him to watch many games from the bench without a single minute on the court.
Guy Pnini, Casspi’s teammate on Israel’s National Team, would probably like to erase the last part of the year as well. The Israeli basketball player was stripped of his captain title, suspended from his team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, and fined $26,000 after using a racist slur during a league game against Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Pnini was filmed crying while talking to Israeli press after meeting with Maccabi Tel Aviv’s management. The Israeli Basketball Association decided that all teams (Men’s and Women’s) would to visit Yad Vashem in an attempt to reach for tolerance.
Finally, Delmon Young will remember 2012, and be remembered for it – for all the wrong reasons. The 27-yr-old MLB outfielder pled guilty earlier this year to aggravated harassment for shouting an anti-Semitic slur and tackling a man to the ground outside a New York City hotel last spring. Young apologized to his team and was suspended without pay for seven days by Major League Baseball, costing him approximately $257,240. Young was also sentenced to a tour of the Jewish Museum of Tolerance in New York City.
This post first appeared on and is used here with permission.
(Photo: robbiesaurus)