YouTube, a land of a million surprises, has bequeathed upon us a Hanukkah miracle: A series of videos from the mid-late 2000s of NBA Stars and random celebrities talking about the holiday, and Judaism in general.
For a few years running, ESNews, the brainchild of NBA and boxing reporter Elie Seckbach, published a Hanukkah-themed video complete with interviews of NBA players, celebrities, and other randos, asking each of them to comment on the holiday. These videos are gold if only for their low-grade production quality (and I mean that as a compliment; it adds to their charm), Seckbach’s undeniable positivity and passion, and for the stars’ wishes for those celebrating Hanukkah, which often comes across as life advice.
Below is a video of Shaq, the former Lakers and Heat (and Suns and Celtics) star, wishing “all my Jewish people. I love you. Stay out of trouble.” And there’s former NBAer Dorell Wright attemping to sing “Maoz Tzur” and “Hava Nagilah.” And Kobe Bryant, telling Israelis in 2006 to “stay up.” And Dwayne Wade telling people to spend Hanukkah with “the ones you love… ’cause time is moving fast.” And there’s Ricky Davis, whom the Celtics once tried to make the face of the franchise, telling Seckbach he hopes Hanukkah observers “blow out all the candles.”
And, of course, Paris Hilton, who says, “Hi Israel, I love you.”
And here’s another segment from 2007, featuring Donyell Marshall (‘memba him?), Kobe (again), and Ron Artest, who had no idea what Hanukkah was but seems excited about the prospect of getting eight presents. And there’s retired NBAer Mike James who liked the idea of gambling with a dreidel, and whose wife knows the Hebrew alphabet. And there’s Delonte West, who said he’d be nervous if his girlfriend got wind of the whole eight presents thing.
Oh, and there’s a young LeBron wishing viewers a Happy Hanukkah, and J.R. Smith, who now plays for the Knicks, advising, “Just have a good one, man. Be safe.”
In the 2008 video, there’s Kobe again, and even former NFLers Shawn “Lights Out” Merriman and Michael Strahan. And Duke product Elton Brand speaking Hebrew phrases (not badly, I might add) and actor Jimmy Smits wishing viewers a Happy Hanukkah.
Finally, here’s more with Ron Artest and Shaq and Frank Caliendo, who does some awesome impersonations of Adam Sandler and George W. Bush and Al Pacino and Charles Barkley, all talking about Hanukkah. The best one though? Caliendo as Bill Clinton, saying “Happy Monica—er, I mean Hanukkah.”
And if you something more, here’s one on Rosh Hashanah. In it, Jason Collins, the first openly NBA player, talks about wearing a yarmulke, and attending bar mitzvahs. Oh, and there’s Shaq, never afraid of a camera, saying, “Shana Tova, my brotha.”
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