The exceptional career of Shimon Mizrahi has been celebrated with the long-time Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv chairman being designated the first Euroleague Basketball Legend from the club executive level. The honor was announced on Tuesday at the ECA Shareholders Meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The celebration of Mizrahi's accomplishments marks the eighth time the Euroleague Basketball Legend distinction has been awarded. Mizrahi joins legendary former coach Dusan Ivkovic and former superstar players Dimitris Diamantidis, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Juan Carlos Navarro, Theodoros Papaloukas, Ramunas Siskauskas and Mirsad Turkcan on the exclusive list of Euroleague Basketball Legends. Two of those legends, Jasikevicius and Papaloukas, were signed by Mizrahi and played for Maccabi during their careers.
Mizrahi, 79, is serving in his 50th season on the Maccabi board. Under his stewardship, the club has become a classic on the world basketball stage. Chief among Mizrahi's many impressive accomplishments with Maccabi are the team's 14 appearances in the EuroLeague championship game and continental titles in 1977, 1981, 2004, 2005 and 2014.
"Shimon is a natural choice for the first club executive to be named a Euroleague Basketball Legend," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO, said. "You can't overstate all that Shimon has meant to the game of basketball in Israel and across Europe in his half a century on the job. Of course, has he guided Maccabi to the pinnacle of success and kept the team among Europe's elite for decades. At the same time, his unmatched experience and insight have been indispensable in spurring the growth of the EuroLeague as we know it today."
Maccabi was a fledgling club when Mizrahi first stepped into the senior management position in 1969, but he quickly revolutionized how the team was run. He made Maccabi profitable by building a roof over the existing outdoor arena, by charging for tickets to the games, and by putting Maccabi's games in European competition on television, which helped make it the most popular team in Israel. By the time Maccabi captured its first EuroLeague title in 1977, its Thursday night games were mandatory television viewing in Israel – unless you were among the lucky few to get a seat at the Yad Eliyahu Sports Palace. Either way, the streets throughout the country were empty until after the final buzzer.
In addition to their EuroLeague successes, Maccabi has won 42 Israeli League championships, 36 Israeli Cups, the 2001 SuproLeague and the 2012 Adriatic League in 50 seasons under Mizrahi's direction. The list of basketball greats to wear the Maccabi uniform in that time is headlined by Tal Brody, Miki Berkowitz, Earl Williams, Aulcie Perry, Kevin Magee, Doron Jamchi, Oded Kattash, Tom Chambers, Nate Huffman, Anthony Parker, Nikola Vujcic, Jasikevicius, Papaloukas and Devin Smith.
Mizrahi has been actively involved with many EuroLeague committees since 2001, when Maccabi first joined EuroLeague Basketball, including serving on the EuroLeague Board and the EuroLeague Judicial Commission.
His many accomplishments have been noted around the world. In 2007, the year after his team completed back-to-back EuroLeague titles, Time Magazine chose Mizrahi for its list of the 50 most prominent sports executives in the world. He has also served as the Acting Chairman of the Israel Basketball Association and the Judicial Commission of FIBA. Mizrahi's contributions have not been limited to basketball. He is a member of the Olympic Committee of Israel and served as the honorary president of the 18th Maccabiah Games in 2009. In 2011, the State of Israel selected Mizrahi for its most prestigious honor, the Israel Prize.