HAIFA, Israel -- Brad Greenberg's bet that he could resurrect his career with Maccabi Haifa in Israel is paying big dividends.
He has led the Maccabi Haifa club to a historic turnaround, inheriting a team that finished dead last a year ago and taking it to the title game against perennial powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv. Along the way, he has emerged as a local hero and positioned himself for a possible return to the NBA.
"We've awakened Haifa to basketball again, which is a wonderful feeling," Greenberg said. "This is much better for me than what I was doing. Much better."
The 59-year-old Greenberg was once part of the American coaching fraternity. He held assistant coaching jobs with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers, and also served as the Philadelphia 76ers general manager, before turning to college basketball. He led Radford University in southwestern Virginia to a 2009 conference title and a spot in the NCAA tournament.
But his success at Radford turned into scandal when the school was accused of major recruiting violations. The NCAA's investigation found a "concerted effort to cover up violations" under several coaches, including Greenberg. Radford suspended him for the final four games of the 2010-11 season, and he resigned shortly thereafter.
Two years later, Greenberg's remorse is limited. He said he regrets not cooperating with the NCAA. In addition to aiding in the cover up, Greenberg's violations included giving impermissible travel and team benefits to an ineligible player.
"Yeah, I put a kid on a bus because I didn't want him by himself during the holiday when no one else was on campus," he said. "I mean, they were violations, but they're not the kind of violations I feel bad about committing now."
The NCAA slapped Greenberg with a five-year show-cause order, a punishment that makes it extremely difficult to land another college coaching job. With the NBA under a lockout when he resigned, Greenberg found an unusual opportunity: coaching the Venezuelan national team.
After a year in Venezuela, Greenberg, who is Jewish, reached out to American multimillionaire Jeffrey Rosen about a move to Israel.
When Greenberg looks ahead, he does not see a future in college basketball. Coaching in Israel has been a far better personal and professional time than the grind of recruiting, long road trips and packed schedules inherent in the college game.
"We're playing Maccabi Tel Aviv for the State Cup championship ... and (President) Shimon Peres is shaking my hand before the game, versus going to a weekend doubleheader at Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian? I mean, give me a break," he said.
Regardless of the outcome of Thursday's single-game championship, Greenberg's future is uncertain. His performance has generated widespread speculation that he will try to return to the NBA.
He will fly back to Virginia this month to marry his fiance, and then return to Israel to coach the national team at this summer's Maccabiah Games, a sort of Olympics for Jewish athletes from around the world. Beyond that, there are only hints of where he'll be next year.
Following the Game 5 win, Greenberg gave no indication of his plans. "We've got the chance to be together for one more game," he said. "Hopefully. we'll be able to do something special with it."