Maccabeaten / Basketball Is Just an Allegory of Our Lives

The Euroleague final in Barcelona showed that happy faces can turn serious as if with a click of a button, like the quick transition between Memorial Day and Independence Day.

The inherent tension between Memorial Day and Independence Day, between a day of mourning and holiday, will always be with us. And the question will always remain as to how one makes the sudden transition. Indeed, it is worth considering separating the two.

This year the tension was all the more so, as the question arose as to whether the Euroleague basketball final in Barcelona in which Maccabi Tel Aviv was playing would end on time, before the onset of Memorial Day, or whether, horror of horrors, the broadcast would be cut off in the middle of the drama, before we knew the final score, plunging the entire nation into a state of uncertainty. That's all we needed on such a day.

Maccabi Tel Aviv, Lior Eliyahu, Panathinaikos - AFP - 8.5.11

On second thought, if we lost, and we did, it would blend into the sorrow in the general national mood. Then 5,000 distressed fans returning from Barcelona would disembark from their planes with expressions reflecting their identification with 22,867 bereaved families and, on the other hand, with the Shalit family.

And if, God willing, we had won, it would have been impossible to wait for the end of Memorial Day - the cheers would have rung out and fans could have jumped into fountains without hurting sensibilities. If we had only won, Maccabi Tel Aviv's Shimon Mizrahi, who is being awarded an Israel Prize on Independence Day in any event, would have stolen the show from all those scientists and researchers and artists who will take to the stage with him to accept recognition for their lifetimes of achievement.

It's no wonder then that the tension yesterday left many glued to the television waiting to witness live how things would transpire. On another channel, at the same time, they broadcast live coverage of the opening Memorial Day ceremony at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. How the mighty have fallen.

I paid special attention to the coach. Would he call time-outs like he usually does as if Memorial Day was not in the offing, or would he go easy a little, as if this was not a fateful game, which would affect both Memorial Day and Independence Day for better or for worse? And every fan asked himself with concern whether there would be time remaining for Israel's president, prime minister and sports minister to place a call either congratulating or consoling the team, just before they honor those assembled for Memorial Day with their presence.

Basketball is just an allegory of our lives in which happy faces turn serious as if with a click of a button, like some remote control flipping through channels. Like the quick transition between Netanyahu's meeting at 10 Downing Street, reportedly followed by another tete-a-tete with magician Uri Geller at a casino.

In the end, the game ended on time, allowing Memorial Day to begin with all its appropriate solemnity: a time to laugh and a time to weep.