Tal Brody, the point guard on Illinois' 1963 Big Ten championship team who went on to become a sports legend in Israel, will be honored before Illinois' game with Purdue on Wednesday. Brody's No. 12 jersey will be the 33rd honored jersey to be displayed at Assembly Hall.
``This honor closes a missing link that I can add in the chain of my basketball career,'' Brody said. ``After my Trenton (N.J.) High School jersey No. 12 and Maccabi Tel-Aviv jersey No. 6 were hung up on the rafters, and now the Fighting Illini No. 12, I have immense feelings of pride that I have made a difference to all three teams that I have played for in my basketball career and the many thousands of fans that enjoyed sharing our success.''
Despite being the 12th selection by Baltimore in the 1965 NBA draft, Brody decided to accept the request of Israeli government officials, who wanted him to lift the profile of basketball in the Jewish state.
After leading the U.S. team to a gold medal in the 1965 Maccabia Games, Brody, 69, embarked on a long professional career in Israel. In 1977, he led Maccabi Tel Aviv to its first European Cup championship, a title run that included a celebrated upset of the Soviet Union's Red Army team.
After that win, Brody said, ``We are on the map. And we are staying on the map--not only in sports, but in everything.'' It was a phrase that has endured, and continues to inspire, in Israel, where it still is often used.
In 1979, Brody, who's often referred to as the Mr. Basketball of Israel, received the Israel Prize, the country's highest civilian honor. He is one of 13 international-wing finalists for selection to the Naismith Hall of Fame this year.
Brody, who averaged 15.1 points a game, ranks 38th among Illinois' all-time leading scorers, with 1,121 points.