Mark down the date: Friday, June 20, 2014. It was the day that the world realized that Israel had become a force in the world of professional basketball. Former Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv head coach David Blatt, who led the yellow and blue to both the 2014 Euroleague and Israeli Basketball Super League championships, was hired as the new bench boss of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
What an amazing season, as Maccabi TA won the Euroleague title May 18 in an exciting 96-86 overtime win over Real Madrid in Milan. But they still had to face defending BSL defending champion Maccabi Haifa in a two-game playoff. That also ended in another overtime victory, 84-82, on June 11.
Meanwhile, for Jeffrey Rosen, the owner of defending champions Maccabi Haifa, it was a tough loss to take. But he knows the most important thing for fans worldwide to remember is that the BSL has come into its own as one of Europe’s most elite basketball leagues.
Rosen has made the team from northern Israel into a global brand as the 2012-13 BSL champions. A resident of Aventura, Fla., Rosen has brought Maccabi Haifa to the United States, where last year they completed a successful preseason NBA tour against the Phoenix Suns, the Detroit Pistons and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Haifa management also helps produce the English-language “Inside Israeli Basketball” show, which has been broadcast on American cable networks and is available on the Internet worldwide.
Rosen is the owner and chairman of Triangle Financial Services, LLC, a Florida-based sports marketing, media and management firm. His passion for professional basketball in Israel has not gone unnoticed.
More potential ownership groups are looking to invest in the BSL, and the most recent entry was the group who purchased Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem in 2013. The group is headed by 32-year-old Internet businessman Ori Allon, and it includes New York Knicks superstar Amar’e Stoudemire and Eyal Chomski, who owns one of Israel’s biggest and most successful advertising agencies. Then for good measure they added U.S.-based Arn Tellem, who is widely recognized as one of the most influential and respected sports agents in the world.
Because of Rosen’s promotion of Israel basketball and the longtime success of rival Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, it suddenly seems like owning a team in the BSL is a wise sports investment.
Rosen, though, is not only involved in basketball. He was an original investor in the Israel Baseball League and has emerged as a leader in a group seeking to restore professional baseball to Israel after the failed attempt of 2007.
Just before a much-needed vacation after the BSL championship series, Rosen spoke to the JT about a number of sports-related issues.
JT: Another outstanding year but a tough ending. Can you reflect on how far Maccabi Haifa has come under your ownership?
Rosen: Despite falling just short of back-to-back championships, I’m extremely proud of the team’s accomplishments and the progress our organization has made over the past seven years. We went from a second-division team in the first season in 2007 and were promoted to the Premiere League in just one season. Our Maccabi Haifa team has earned five finals appearances (three Israeli League finals and two State Cup finals) in the past six seasons, including winning the team’s first championship, in 2012-13, in the franchise’s 60-year history. Maccabi Haifa has become a global brand, playing six NBA teams in the past four seasons. We also have our “Inside Israeli Basketball” TV show, which has been on the air in the United States for five seasons and has earned two New York Emmy Award nominations.
The Israeli Basketball Super League has attracted new owners and top players. Are you pleased with the growth of the league both in interest as well as the talent level?
The Israeli Basketball Super League’s talent and ownership is definitely on the rise since I became an owner back in 2007. Many of the teams are opening first-class venues, including our team, which opened a beautifully renovated Romema Arena in Haifa in 2012-13. Hapoel Jerusalem has attracted new ownership, including present New York Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire. As the owner of Maccabi Haifa, I welcome and am open to additional owners for our Maccabi Haifa team.
Is it your hope to have Maccabi Haifa play in both the BSL and
Our goal is to continue to be a force in the Israeli Basketball Super League. The Euroleague is something we can see happening in the future, but our focus is on the BSL and continuing to build Haifa as a global brand in international basketball with our annual games against NBA competition. We will soon announce the names of the NBA teams we will face in the United States and the dates, so our American fans can come out and see us.
I know of your love of baseball. How is your quest to bring professional baseball to Israel coming?
Baseball is a passion of mine, and we continue to support the local Israel Association of Baseball each year. We hope to build high-class baseball facilities in Israel in the near future.