The coach of Israel’s Maccabi Ra’anana team, Yehu Orland, entered a room crowded with reporters before Thursday’s NBA friendly with the Brooklyn Nets. His T-shirt read: “R.I.P Eli, forever in my heart.”
The message honored one of Orland’s best friends, who was killed two days earlier defending Israel after an attack by Hamas militants. According to the Wall Street Journal, the attack claimed more than 1,300 Israeli lives, while the country’s response killed more than 1,500 in Gaza.
The Israeli Maccabi Ra’anana team arrived in the United States on Wednesday, days after the attack, for a three-game tour against 3 NBA teams: the Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves. Although Orland admitted to fighting back tears during the press conference, the coach said his team recognized the upside that could come from going through the games.
“Hope”, Orland replied when asked why his team chose to play. “I hope the people in Israel who will be able to see this game understand that they cannot destroy us. We are the first Israeli team to play since the beginning of the war. And no one will be able to bend Israel, because we are a strong nation.”.
Maccabi Ra’anana head coach Yehu Orland said the team hopes their decision to play tonight’s game inspires “hope” for Israel:
“If you’re gonna look in my eyes, probably you’re gonna see tears… But hope. Hope for the children, hope for the young people in Israel that might see… pic.twitter.com/BAXd63Huna
– Erik Slater (@erikslater_) October 12, 2023
Orland and his team were not the only ones with heavy hearts at the Barclays Center. Noa Kirel, an Israeli singer and actress, performed the country’s national anthem. Thousands of fans sang along with them, some with Israeli flags on their shoulders, others with signs that read “New York stands with Israel.”.
The Nets then delivered a message condemning the terrorist attacks against Israel, before observing a moment of silence.
The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center condemn the terrorist attacks and mourn the senseless loss of life in Israel.
We stand together against terror and our thoughts are with all who have been impacted by these tragic events. pic.twitter.com/ybdSujW4NY
– Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 12, 2023
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