Recently I was counting the number of interviews I have been able to do over the last ten years. Its been a great privilege to hear, first hand, the stories of so many great Jewish athletes and sports personalities. Getting to speak with Liron Fanan was special. Her story is a bit under the radar, but it shouldn’t be. I called my sister immediately and told her, this is someone to follow. Meet Liron Fanan. A student of the game since she was a child. Working in basketball since she was in High School. Potentially the first female NBA General Manager. After speaking with her for five minutes I told her I would consider quitting the rabbinate to work for her. She is incredible and I hope people continue to follow her progress. Yalla!
1) How did you get into the game of basketball?
I grew up in a basketball family. My father was the part owner and general manager for Maccabi Tel Aviv. My brother played basketball for Maccabi Tel Aviv. I began working for the team in different roles beginning at age sixteen. I get the love of basketball from my father.
2) Did you work around the game of basketball in Israel?
Yes, I worked for Maccabi until my army service. Everyone goes to the army, so that took me away from the game. Then I went to school in New York and worked for Israeli consulate. Through those years I scouted for Maccabi. Mainly, I was looking for Jewish players in high school and college, those who could have an Israeli passport. After this I returned to Israel and worked for Maccabi for six years until Omri [Casspi] went to the NBA.
3) Why did things change when Omri Casspi went to the NBA?
My last role with Maccabi was as the Assistant General Manager. After that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Ormi was about to get drafted and we had a very close relationship. I helped him navigate the different agencies and CAA (Creative Arts Agency). I took on the role of marketing and off court management when Omri got drafted. Players began contacting me to rep them. Soon I had 30-40 clients all over Europe and Israel. I did that for 10 years. I was involved with the NBA summer league, Euro camps, Basketball Without Borders and then those contacts began offering me jobs but this summer I really wanted a change, so I went to the Cavs.
4) What are you currently doing for the Cavs?
I am the Director for Player Development for the G league. I oversee the day to day; the call ups, two-ways up and downs, schedules and training. I work with the coaching staff. I do other projects and scouting for the Cavs mainly the Euro scouting.
5) What is your long-term goal? Do you want to coach?
I was never on the coaching side nor did I have that aspiration. I like working with the guys off the court. I know the game through scouting. My goal was always to be a GM, as a kid it was for Maccabi Tel Aviv and then be the first female GM in the NBA. But now I want to do a few things first. At some point I would love to be the Director of Player Personnel. Working in that position seems like something I want to do and fits me well.
6) Did you end up with the Cavs because of David Blatt?
I know David well. We worked with Maccabi together. He has a great relationship with my family. We also worked together a little with the Cavs but that didn’t have much to do with why I ended up with Cavs. It was my relationship with Koby Altman and I told him I wanted to make that move. They have been great and given me the freedom to work and I am enjoying every minute.
7) Who is the next Israeli to get drafted?
All eyes are on Deni Avdija who is Israeli/Serbian and draft eligible for the NBA in 2020. He is currently on the NBA top 100 list, the Israeli National teams and a true NBA talent. Yovel Zoosman for Maccabi Tel Aviv has made great strides recently. I am not sure, but he might become someone who gets drafted too.