“I worked hard to become the player I am, but the love for the game made me the player I am.”
As a skinny 17-year-old, who turned up to some basketball tryout on a whim in 2009, Benji Tamir never predicted the dominant player he would become.
Despite his sporting success within Victoria, Australia and Israel, to this day Tamir’s priority is to remain, simply put, “a nice guy.”
“I don’t want to come across rude or obnoxious in my day-to-day life,” Tamir said. “I like to listen, stay humble and just be decent, and I hope this carries over into my game.”
Before basketball took control of his life, Tamir was a simple teenager with a serious passion for film.
With his family owning four cinemas in Melbourne and Sydney, Tamir could have quite easily taken a different path.
Now in his second decade of Big V basketball, Tamir’s tale of dribbling a ball up and down a court seems like it was always meant to be.
“I remember picking up a ball for the first time with my dad as a very young kid,” Tamir said. “He would train me in the park for hours on end.”
Beginning to play basketball with purpose at the age of 16, having never played in juniors, Tamir’s first season playing with an organised team basketball was in the Big V 2009.
“I played for the Maccabi Warriors up until 2014, before moving on professionally to play in Israel for a year in Division 2 and 3,
“After one season I came back to Australia and played a season with the McKinnon Cougars in Championship Men but went back to Maccabi the year after.”
Tamir’s next years in the Big V would be a back-and-forth tustle between McKinnon and Maccabi, both associations vying for his heart (and defensive domination).
“I then went back to McKinnon for another two seasons in 2017 and 2018 but officially came back to Maccabi.
“I was super young when I first played for the senior Maccabi team, and I was by no means ready to play big minutes,
“I was thrown into the deep end and failed many times, but I stuck with it, trained hard and managed to work myself up to a place where I deserved to play and start.”
Despite years of association indecision, Tamir claimed he has no plans to leave his home of Warriors ever again.
“I can’t see myself leaving again,” he said. “The club means so much to me and there is no other place I’d rather be.
“We are in a unique team and culture,
“The fact that we are a Jewish club is something different to any other team in Australia, and this very fact means we are a very tight knit team and community.
“Lots of us have grown up together, went to the same schools and have the same group of friends, so it’s an amazing thing to play not just for your club, but for your community.”
With undoubted pride for his culture and people, Tamir represented Australia in the Maccabiah Games (Jewish Olympics) in 2009, 2013 and 2017, and is hopeful to return in 2022.
“Winning a bronze medal at the Maccabiah games for Australia was certainly a career highlight,
"However, an equal favourite highlight would be hitting a buzzer beater in one of my first seasons playing basketball in Big V. It was just thrilling!”
This season has seen Tamir suit up in Division Two for the Warriors, where he sits as the second highest scorer in the division with 25 points per game. In the middle of ladder, Tamir’s confidence for finals seems to hold more optimism than other years.
“To be honest, our team is rarely in the hunt for finals,” he said. “This year, however, we are right in the thick of things which is a great feeling,
“We may not make the finals, but the fact we are still in the race is keeping us focussed and excited,
“Either way, we are continuing to build as a team, and we are certain next year is going to be even better!”
As one of the shortest teams in the league, and currently “center-less”, Tamir said there is so much credit that must be given to the teammates he plays with week in and week out.
“We don’t exactly have a centre at the moment, and we are possibly the shortest team in all of big V,” Tamir laughed. “Our ‘big men’ foul out almost every game, but we get around the ‘big’ fellas each time they manage to stay on the court for the duration of the game.”
In the winding road for Tamir that has seen indecision in game choices become assertiveness for action, the Big V has remained his primary influential factor.
“It is such a unique opportunity to play against the best players in the state with proper referees and proper game day set ups,” he said. “I know how special this is as I have seen how it is in other countries around the world…and it just doesn’t compare!”
As for the next generation of basketball competition, Tamir urges athletes to stay true to their identity no matter what experiences emerge.
“Just to keep working hard, it’s the only way to feel good and satisfied when playing Big V,
“The Big V is a great and supportive league where I feel anyone can play and feel a sense of belonging.
“If they don’t feel good, they shouldn’t be around the club they are currently playing for, so play somewhere that has a supportive culture.”
Benji Tamir had to answer these five questions as fast as he could. How did he go?
Go to post match snack? Grill’d Burgers
Current song on repeat? Lose Yourself - Eminem
Netflix choice? Ozark
Nothing is better than... A win on the road!