Ralph Klein (basketball)

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Ralph Klein, 2006
Ralph Klein
Medal record
Men's Basketball
Representing  Israel
FIBA EuroBasket
Silver medal – second place 1979 Italy National Team

Ralph Klein (Hebrew: רלף קליין‎‎ ;July 29, 1931 – August 7, 2008) was an Israeli basketball player and coach.

Early life[edit]

Klein was born in Berlin during the time of the Weimar Republic, to an affluent Hungarian Jewish family that returned to Budapest before the outbreak of World War II. His father died in Auschwitz, but he and his family survived[1] thanks to efforts by Raoul Wallenberg.

Basketball career; player and coach[edit]

After the war, at the age of 16, he began playing football but later moved to basketball and played in the Hungarian national league. In 1951 he immigrated to Israel with his mother.

After serving in the Israeli navy, he joined Maccabi Tel Aviv, with which he played more than 160 games up until 1964, scored 2,701 points and won eight state championships and six state cups.[1] He was a member of the Israeli national team that took part in the 1952 men's basketball tournament, the 1954 World basketball championship and the 1953, 1959, 1961 and 1963 European championships. He played 68 games for the national team.[1]

He began his coaching career in 1964. In 1969 he was appointed as head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, with which he won 14 championships and the European title in 1977. As coach of the Israeli national team, he won second place in the EuroBasket in 1979 and sixth place in 1981 and 1983. In 1983, he unexpectedly announced his appointment as the coach for the West German national team and for BSC Saturn Koln, a position he held until 1985.[1]

Klein led the West German national team to an eighth-place finish in the 1984 Olympic basketball tournament in Los Angeles and a fifth place at the 1985 European championship held on West German home soil.

In 2007, he was diagnosed as suffering from Colorectal cancer and was believed to be on his deathbed.[2] However, his health improved and he even went back to coaching.[3]

He died of cancer on August 7, 2008, at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.[4]


In 2006, he was awarded the Israel Prize for sport,[5][6] along with former football goalkeeper Ya'akov Hodorov.[1]


  • In 2010 the filming of "Playoff" began, a movie based on Klein's life story, and directed by Israeli movie director, Eran Riklis.[7]
  • Israeli basketball team, Elitzur Elkana, whom Klein coached towards the end of his life, is named after the veteran Israeli coach (Elizur "Ralph Klein" Elkanah). The basketball team also wrote a Sefer Torah in the name and honor of Klein.
  • The veteran group of Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team commemorates the achievements and memory of Ralph Klein, and since his death it is named "Maccabi Ralph Klein Tel Aviv".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Alon, Moshe (May 2, 2006). "Legendary sportsmen Chodorov, Klein win Israel Prize". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved March 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ טל, רונן. אני גוסס ולמכבי לא אכפת. גלובס (in Hebrew). Retrieved March 18, 2008. 
  3. ^ aviww11 (Contributor) (February 19, 2008). ראיון עם רלף קליין. Event occurs at 27 seconds. Retrieved March 18, 2008. 
  4. ^ Cohanim, Ehud (August 7, 2008). "Basketball coach Ralph Klein dies at 77". Ynetnews. Retrieved August 7, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew) – Recipient’s C.V.". 
  6. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew) – Judges' Rationale for Grant to Recipient". 
  7. ^ Yoav Borowitz, Sports / Shooting off the mark, Haaretz, 17 November 2011