The Center for the Arts at Monmouth University has announced a free presentation of the acclaimed sports film “On the Map,” scheduled for the evening of Thursday, December 13.
A presentation Jewish Studies Program at Monmouth, the 7:30 p.m. screening inside the Pollak Theatre represents the exclusive area showing of Dani Menkin’s 2016 documentary detailing the victory of Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team over the Soviet squad, in the 1977 FIBA (EuroLeague) championships. Joining director Dani Menkin for a live post-film discussion will be the man known as “Israel’s first modern-day sports hero” — New Jersey native and Jewish Sports Hall of Famer Tal Brody.
Few observers expected the Israelis to beat the odds-on favorites from CSKA Moscow — a tough organization made up of Red Army recruits and veterans of the 1972 Olympics team that beat the United States — on their way to that year’s trophy. But fewer still would have dared underestimate the skills and the spirit of Tel Aviv’s American-born shooting guard, a figure whose now-legendary statement — “We are on the map…and we are staying on the map, not only in sports, but in everything!” — became a rallying cry for an entire nation and its people.
A member of Trenton Central High School’s undefeated NJ state championship team, and an All-American point guard for the University of Illinois, Brody appeared headed to a promising pro career when he was selected 12th in the 1965 NBA draft — but a pre-season trip to Israel, where the kid from Jersey led the Americans to a gold medal in that year’s Maccabiah Games, convinced him that his destiny resided not with a big league contract, but with an opportunity to help and inspire the young nation where both his father and grandfather had lived and worked.
“Mr. Basketball” would go on to serve in both the U.S. and Israeli armed forces; becoming a citizen of Israel prior to his record-setting run with Maccabi Tel Aviv and his date with history. Active now as an official national Goodwill Ambassador, Brody returns to his onetime home state to share the Pollak stage with Menkin, the Israel-based filmmaker whose award winning works include the documentaries “Dolphin Boy” and “39 Pounds of Love,” as well as the narrative feature “Je T’aime I Love You Terminal.”
Incorporating archival footage of key figures like Moshe Dayan, and interviews with contemporaries that include NBA great Bill Walton and former NBA commissioner David Stern, Menkin uses the story of that momentous championship run to frame a larger canvas — one that takes in issues of national pride and identity, Cold War-era tensions, and the residual effects of such tragedies as the 1972 Olympic massacre in Munich. It’s a “David and Goliath” story that continues to resonate on the playing court of the world stage.
Admission to the December 13 screening of “On the Map” is free of charge and more information is available at 732-263-6889, or online at www.monmouth.edu/MCA. To schedule interviews, please contact Kelly Barratt at 732-263-5114.