Steve Malovic, a member of Galil Elyon's 1992/3 championship team, died Friday at the age of 50 after suffering a heart attack.
His untimely passing came six months after he played an exhibition game with Galil's championship team against a team of league all-stars.
"In retrospect, it turned out that we held a farewell party for him," said former teammate Erez Hazan.
Malovic was born July 21, 1956 in Cleveland, Ohio. He played college basketball for San Diego State and was picked in the 1978 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. He was traded to Washington, where he started the 1979 season, which he finished at Detroit after passing through San Diego.
In 1981, after a year in Rome, he arrived in Israel, where he played for Steve Caplan's legendary Hapoel Ramat Gan team, which challenged Maccabi Tel Aviv on all fronts but never managed to take a title.
Malovic, who received Israeli citizenship, later played at Elitzur Netanya and Beitar Tel Aviv.
In the summer of 1992, when he was already 36, Pini Gershon brought him to Galil Elyon, where he was an important part of the team that pried the championship away from Maccabi Tel Aviv.
After three seasons at Galil, Malovic switched to Bnei Hasharon before finally retiring at the age of 40.