When rumors linked Maccabi Haifa with former Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson last week ahead of the Israeli Super League club’s preseason U.S. tour, it made a certain amount of sense.
As it turns out, the 2001 NBA MVP won’t be suiting up for Haifa when the club faces the NBA’s Golden State Warriors on Thursday night or when the team faces the Minnesota Timberwolves, but given that Haifa head coach Brad Greenberg was the 76ers’ general manager when the team drafted “The Answer” first overall in 1996, there was a plausible connection. However, the presence of Greenberg wasn’t the only reason that an “A.I. signing” made sense. In recent months, Haifa - which finished last season at the bottom of the 11-team Israel Super League - has become something of an outpost for lost souls and reclamation projects.
While Maccabi Haifa (owned by Florida-based businessman Jeffrey Rosen) regularly looks to promote Israel and the Super League in the U.S. - the club last visited the U.S. in 2010, and the Haifa-produced Inside Israeli Basketball program airs on the YES Network and other regional sports channels around the country - the club landed in the headlines for a less-than-positive reason earlier this year, when former Syracuse University assistant coach Bernie Fine was hired to serve as a consultant. Fine, who was fired from Syracuse last year amid accusations of child sex abuse, consults on personnel matters from his home in upstate New York, and played a role in the search that led to Greenberg’s hire as the team’s new head coach.