Photo: EPA
Miri Regev
Photo: EPA

NBA stars visit never on cards, despite Regev's promise

NBA officials say there are no plans to hold an All-Star exhibition game in Israel in honor of 70th independence celebrations despite claims by sports minister who met with the league's commissioner last year.

The NBA has announced there are no plans for the league’s star players to visit Israel this summer as part of Israel's 70th birthday celebrations, despite the claims of the Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev that the event was already planned.



The Culture and Sport Ministry confirmed the NBA announcement.


The proposal to invite the NBA stars to Israel was initiated during Regev’s meeting with the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in July 2017 when she visited New York last year.


 (Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)


On the video, which was uploaded to Regev’s Facebook page after the meeting, Silver is shown thanking the Israeli NBA fans, saying “We’re excited to celebrate with you the 70th anniversary.”


Silver also added he plans to visit the country in August 2017. The commissioner’s visit, however, was not connected with the proposal and Silver actually attended the Basketball Without Borders camp, sponsored by the league.


Regev at the time said that the meeting focused on the details of the stars' visit.


“We had an excellent meeting. We’re planning to make arrangements to dedicate an entire week to the NBA as part of the 70th birthday celebrations and Adam will visit the country in order to discuss the details," she said.


“All the NBA and basketball fans have something to look forward to,” added the sports minister in the video.


Adam Silver (Photo: AP)
Adam Silver (Photo: AP)


Another clip, which was also posted on her Facebook page, had a voiceover saying: “During the meeting the minister asked to hold an exhibition game between an Israeli team and NBA All-stars and conduct social activities across the country in honor of the Independence Day celebrations. Silver loved the idea and promised to positively consider it.”


Nevertheless, despite the promises, last week after the conclusion of the NBA 2017-2018 season, one of the league’s officials said there are no plans to participate in the 70th anniversary celebrations.


The Ministry of Culture and Sport responded to the disappointing news.


“When the talks regarding the proposal reached the planning stage, it became clear the NBA’s willingness to participate in the celebrations was less enthusiastic than what it appeared to be in the beginning, since the NBA stars in question are not actually current players,” a statement said. 


Miri Regev (Photo: EPA)
Miri Regev (Photo: EPA)


“In light of the fact that the list of names that was suggested for the project wasn’t interesting and did not include current, well-known players as the ministry expected, and in light of the high sum we’ve been asked to pay in order to bring the players to Israel, it was decided not to proceed with the project,” the statement explained.


Last December the sports minister protested the inclusion on the NBA’s official website of the words "Palestinian Territory, Occupied," as an option when selecting players to participate in the league’s All-Star Game.


"I consider the inclusion of "Palestinian Territory, Occupied" in the list of countries on your official site as legitimization of dissecting Israel and as blunt, explicit interference, standing in opposition to the official stance of the American administration and the statements of President Donald Trump, who has just recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” wrote Regev in a missive to the league's commissioner.


 (Photo: AP)
(Photo: AP)


The NBA website removed the term "occupied territories" from its website after the outrage it caused, raising the possibilty that the incident also contributed to the league administration’s decision to not enter into another unnecessary political contoversy following the current war of words between the league’s top players and US President Donald Trump.


While the failure of the proposal to materialize was unlikely caused by political issues, it comes in the aftermath of a cancellation of a friendly soccer match between Argentina and Israel in Jerusalem following the pressure from the BDS.


Also, in February 2017, during a highly publicized visit of the NFL stars, it was revealed that six out of 11 invited players decided to cancel their visit once they became aware the trip was sponsored by the Israeli government.






פרסום ראשון: 06.21.18, 22:33
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