From Israeli Hoops to a CBS Studio

Before Doug Gottlieb, a basketball analyst for CBS and ESPN was on the air, he was playing professional ball, not only in the U.S. but also for a brief stint in Israel.

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Basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb didn't just used to play professional basketball. At one point in his early career, Gottlieb, who is Jewish, claimed his Israeli citizenship and dribbled around on Israeli courts. Now, the former Maccabi Ra'anana player and nine-year ESPN veteran has taken a new post with CBS, living out his dream of serving as a studio and game analyst for the NCAA tournament.

Q: Describe your favorite moment playing professional basketball in Israel?

My favorite moment was probably beating Hemofarm Vrasic in Korac Cup play at MetroWest. I cannot remember the number by I feel like I had 12 assists or so. Hemofarm had a very young Darko Milicic and my guy Mate Malisa abused him. Cory Carr caught several alley oops and the game was played at a great pace. Outside of that, playing at Maccabiah Tel Aviv was amazing. To see all the yellow and blue, to imagine playing on that team, or beating that team. It was one of those experiences where you thought, 'Man, if I could simply work on my game, make some jump shots and settle into the Israeli style of basketball, maybe I could earn enough respect to play for such an amazing organization.' The fans were singing and the arena was full. It felt as close to big-time college basketball as anything I played outside of college. When I say college ball, that is a compliment, since stateside, with the exception maybe of Oklahoma City, the college arenas have more passion and better fan support.

Q: Do you have any aspirations to coach in Israel?

It would be a dream come true to coach in Israel. Being a father, I desperately want my three kids to learn about the country, and being the son and brother of coaches, coaching is totally in my blood. With so many Americans playing in Israel, I think I could relate to all the players well and coaching is one of those things where you either can or you can't. I believe I can. On the other hand, most organizations want a guy who has coached before, or a nationally regarded player to take over, which is fine, so I'm not expecting a call anytime soon. In the meantime, it will remain a dream of mine.

Q: What is your favorite thing about interviewing famous sports athletes?

The best part about interviewing famous athletes is when you connect as people with them. Many of the best veteran athletes are also fathers and since I have been on television for 10 years, they seem to know me and be open to talking to me. So if I can relate as a father, or as an athlete or simply the trust in knowing that I am not new in the industry, getting players to open up and just be themselves is incredibly rewarding.

Q: Do you plan to coach in the Maccabiah games anytime soon?

As of now Seth Greenberg is set to coach the Maccabiah team. I have never asked to coach, though I would love to, nor have they asked me to coach.

Q: Did you ever picture yourself hosting one of the most popular sports radio shows in the United States?

My radio show is on nationally and can be heard anywhere in the world at Are we the Number One show in the country? No, but we are in the conversation and growing.

Q: Why did you make the transition from ESPN to CBS?

CBS has offered me the opportunity to become one of their top basketball analysts for the NCAA tournament, host my own radio show on a new national network and have my own TV show on their cable network. Additionally I have gotten the chance to move back to Southern California, where I grew up. After 10 great years at ESPN, I decided, along with my wife, to take a chance on change and see if we liked a little different lifestyle. The NCAA tournament is the holy grail to me, it is the biggest event in college basketball by far and it can only be seen on CBS, being a part of that is going to be amazing.

Q: Favorite segment on live radio?

There is nothing better on live radio than a great interview where people feel like they do not want to leave their car or turn the channel.

Q: Who is winning the NCAA national championship this year?

I have no idea who will win the NCAA championship. The field is wide open and the brackets will give us a better sense since the match-ups really make the tournament. Indiana, Gonzaga, Michigan, Michigan State, Duke, Louisville and Kansas all have a great shot, but this is a year in which St. Louis, Butler and schools like Davidson could make a run.

Before his broadcasting career took off, Doug Gottlieb played professional basketball, even putting in some time for Israel.Credit: Getty Images

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