Basketball / As Usual, It Boils Down to Sharp

The captain was nearly forgotten until his breakout in the final

Vered Cohen
Yaniv Orgad
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After sparking the momentum that brought Maccabi Tel Aviv its 48th Premier League basketball title, after celebrating in the locker room and getting all wet, after showering and being showered with praise from unusual sources, such as Carlos Arroyo ("When I grow up I want to be Derrick Sharp"), the captain entered Yad Eliahu's main hallway accompanied by his wife and child.

"Daddy, when is the next game?" asked Sharp Junior, and only then did a sigh emerge from the 37-year old - who had scored 12 points in the winning effort - as he looked back on a hard-fought and challenging season. "My boy, there is no next game," he said. "We won the championship, I told you already! Now go to sleep."

A season that began with Effi Birenboim at the helm ended with Pini Gershon. The team budget started out at $18 million and ballooned to $25 million. The season's opening roster included Marcus Fizer, Rodney White, Esteban Batista, Jason Williams and Tre Simmons, who were collectively replaced by Aaron McGhee, Marcus Brown, Dee Brown and Raviv Limonad. And management was divided against itself over how to get the team back on track.

Despite all this, Maccabi ended the season with a championship, thanks to two game-changing three-pointers by a player who barely participates in practice scrimmages yet managed with that same famous hand and extraordinary energy to push his companions to victory against Maccabi Haifa.

And, once again, he is likely to be one of the few familiar faces on next year's roster. Only Yaniv Green and Limonad are expected to be with Sharp when next season starts.

The following day, in a celebratory cocktail party the club held for its players, Sharp avoided, as is his custom, the tough questions regarding the way the team was run this season. "It was a tough season, and still a great one because we are the champions," he said with a winning smile. "I've been shooting baskets since I was 10. I'll always know how to shoot. Thank God I was on the floor."