STAPLES Center to Host Historic Exhibition Game Between Clippers and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv
LOS ANGELES, CA – April 29, 2009 – Hoping to repeat one of the most successful basketball exhibitions in the history of New York, the Los Angeles Clippers today announced a STAPLES Center preseason game between the Clippers and Israel’s most famous professional basketball team, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv.
The game, which will be played on October 20th, will benefit Migdal Ohr, the world’s largest orphanage in Northern Israel and home to nearly 7,000 orphaned, impoverished, underprivileged and new immigrant children.
Maccabi Tel Aviv last appeared in America in 2007, when 18,000 New Yorkers came together at Madison Square Garden to watch the Israeli team play an exhibition game against the hometown New York Knicks. That game turned out to be the most successful exhibition basketball game in the history of the Garden.
STAPLES Center and the Clippers believe a similar success will happen this year in the City of Angels.
In 2005, Maccabi became the first international team to win on North American soil when they defeated the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.
Mike Dunleavy, General Manager and Head Coach of the Clippers said, “It’s an honor for the city, our franchise and team to be able to help raise funds for such an amazing place like Migdal Ohr. NBA Basketball is beloved throughout the world, particularly by children, so it’s only fitting that the Clippers would do their part to help this at-risk group of kids.”
“We deeply appreciate the involvement of the Los Angles Clippers and STAPLES Center in a cause that doesn’t get a lot of attention but is so incredibly important,” said The Honorable Jacob Dayan, Consul General of Israel for Los Angeles. “We all know that children are the world’s most valuable resource in whatever part of the world they are located.”
The American Friends of Migdal Ohr’s Executive Vice President Robert Katz said, “After the huge success of our exhibition in Madison Square Garden last season, in which the entire city of New York rallied around the Migdal Ohr children’s cause, we had a feeling that Los Angeles would have the same sort of enthusiasm.”
Israeli Prize Laureate Rabbi Y.D. Grossman founded Migdal Ohr in 1972 with 18 children in a small one-story building in Northern Israel. Today Migdal Ohr is roughly the size of the UCLA campus, where each day thousands of children from all over the world are fed, clothed, housed, educated and nurtured on to productive lives. Migdal Ohr runs a network of schools, providing academic and vocational studies while integrating new immigrant children into Israeli society through specialized curricula and after-school programs.
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
“It’s so good to be here today, especially because today is Israel’s 61st year of independence, to announce such a beautiful project. I would like to thank the Clippers for hosting us for this wonderful project promoting the kids in Israel. I think there is no better way to promote such a wonderful project with a basketball game. This is really a great thing because Los Angeles is a great place, and has the second largest Jewish community in the world. It’s such a diverse city that reminds me on a daily basis just how similar it is to Israel. We really feel welcome here. Again, thank you very much for having us. On behalf of Israel and its Independence Day and on behalf of Maccabi Tel Aviv, I promise you a very good game.”
On inviting the Clippers to Tel Aviv for a rematch…
“Absolutely. We were speaking about who is going to win this game, but there is one winner for sure: the kids of Migdal Ohr. Those kids are definitely the winners of this game. We would be delighted to have the Clippers come to Israel for a rematch. Hopefully they will be able to show us back what we are going to present here in Los Angeles.”
“We are humbled by the great, extraordinary works of Rabbi Grossman and the whole Migdal Ohr organization. We’re honored to participate in the games and bring light to this great organization and the great work they do, hopefully not only in the city of Los Angeles but throughout the world. I’ve been reading up on what Migdal Ohr has done and how they’ve done it, and it’s just so impressive. We think that the great city of Los Angeles will make this charity proud.”
On European Basketball…
“Clearly there are a few rule changes, but everything is coming closer together all of the time. I think the NBA actually has a few rules that will eventually change to make our game more of a universal game. Overall with international games – the fans, the rivalries, the countries and their leagues – they get pretty robust.”
“Besides thanking the Clippers, Mr. Sterling and the entire Clippers staff have been so wonderful to deal with. They’ve been charitable, open hearted and terrific to work with. They’ve embraced us every step of the way, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We’d like to thank the folks at AEG and STAPLES Center, who have just been more than welcoming. In our wildest dreams we couldn’t have hoped for better.”
“Migdal Ohr, to our knowledge, is the world’s largest orphanage. We have 3,000 children who live on a campus in Northern Israel who come from all over. There are pure orphans, children who were at risk, children who have been abused, neglected or impoverished, and new immigrants who have no where else to go. Our campus is almost the size of UCLA, it’s about 65 acres. It’s Disneyland for kids at risk. We take them in at one month and they’ll stay sometimes through age 18, when they go off to universities or the army. It’s their home. With this game we hope not to just raise the profile of Migdal Ohr, but also to highlight the importance of placing children at risk on everyone’s social agenda. It’s clearly an important cause. We have great partners here (with the Clippers) and we thank them very much.”
“Two years ago we had the pleasure of doing the same thing at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. We sold out Madison Square Garden. The community there turned out in droves. We set a record for Madison Square Garden’s attendance to a preseason game – basketball or hockey – and it was a great success. We had a vision and it came to pass. Thankfully our partners at the Clippers share that vision with us. We’re extremely excited and humbled. And by the way, tickets go on sale Friday, May 1st.”
“We’re honored to be here. It’s going to be a great event. I think that any time you can use basketball, in particular with international competition, as a vehicle to promote and help such a worthy cause, we think it’s a marvelous opportunity. We are humbled to be involved and we look forward to having a nice, competitive event. More importantly, we look forward to generating a huge amount of interest here in Los Angeles. For all of that to go back and benefit at risk kids is terrific for us. We’re happy to be a part of it.”