Guy Pnini calls it a career – The Israeli will join Maccabi Tel Aviv’s coaching staff

Aug 7, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Guy Pnini is without a doubt one of Israeli basketball’s biggest winners, in fact, many have called him the “Ultimate Winner” throughout his illustrious career. However, all good things come to an end as the saying goes and for the 39-year old Pnini it was time to hang up his basketball sneakers in order to embark on the next chapter of his career. That chapter will see the Tel Aviv native officially head behind the bench as an assistant coach on head coach Oded Katash’s staff.

The all-time Israeli League appearance leader leaves the game as an active player after 22 seasons and with a jam packed trophy case. Pnini captained Maccabi to the 2014 Euroleague championship and captured 11 Israel State Cups, 5 domestic league titles, four Winner Cup trophies to go along with an ABA League title as well as the Balkan League championship. The forward was also a significant part of the Israel National Team throughout his illustrious career.

“Today I am ending a significant chapter in my life, I am retiring as a player,” Pnini began. “I remember myself being excited to wear the Maccabi Tel Aviv jersey as a 6-year-old boy on the youth team. Now I am 39 years old and as an athlete, you are afraid of uttering the words, I’m retiring. I really wanted to continue playing, but my legs said enough. In the end, my body made the decision for me, but I feel very lucky. I experienced both happy and difficult moments that shaped me as a person. I wouldn’t change any of the choices I made along the way.”

Pnini will always be recognized as a Maccabi Tel Aviv player where he spent the vast majority of his career having played 9 years with the yellow-and-blue where he won four of his league titles with the 5th having been won with Hapoel Holon a team he featured with for five campaigns.

Guy Pnini and John Dibartolomeo – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“I have been at Maccabi for more than five decades and today I am especially excited,” the club chairman, Shimon Mizrahi said. “Guy is not just another player but a symbol and example of one who has such a great wisdom of the game and has always showed loyalty to the club. This past season, Oded Katash and the entire team were often helped by Guy’s experience and knowledge. In my opinion, Guy will reach the highest of heights and will become one of the greatest coaches in Israeli basketball.”

Katash himself also spoke about the addition of Pnini to his staff, “I am very happy and I want to congratulate Guy Pnini, who is joining us in the coaching staff. Guy is the kind of person you always want to have by your side. He understands the game at a very high level and will contribute a lot to the team. I wish him success in the new chapter that he is starting in his career.”

Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: Euroleague

The forward’s professional career began with Maccabi Raanana in 2001 and then moved to Bnei HaSharon up until 2006. From there, Pnini played two seasons with Hapoel Jerusalem followed by a year that was split between Serbia and Cyprus before the Sabra returned home to Israel and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“I’m not taking for granted that on the last day of my playing career that I am a member of Maccabi Tel Aviv,” Pnini said. “I grew up with the club’s values of commitment and the importance of winning every game. As a youngster I dreamed that one day I would be a part of this. Thank you for making my childhood dream come true. We went through amazing experiences together, from championships to State Cups and of course winning the Euroleague. To lift the Euroleague trophy in Milan and celebrate in front of 100,000 people in Rabin Square were experiences I didn’t dare dream of.”

“When I started playing, not many believed that I would get to where I am today. I learned to fall down and to get right back up again. All of these experiences will stay with me. The greatest joy is my family. Thank you to my mother and father for their effort from a young age. Thank you to my brothers, you were part of this journey. Thank you to my wife for her endless patience. I know it is not easy to be by my side after losses and be sure that it will be like this in the next chapter as well. To my children, thank you for teaching me what is really important in life. Daddy loves you.”

Yiftach Ziv, Roman Sorkin, Rafi Menco & Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Pnini’s long career was not without controversy along the way as he always looked for an edge over his opponents and at times his trash talking on the court crossed the line especially back in 2012 when he was fined 100,000 NIS and was stripped of his captaincy for his disparaging remarks he made to a rival player.

“I know that I’ve come a long way, in which I made mistakes,” Pnini admitted. “I learned from these mistakes and of course there are things I would like to erase from the past, but we move on. The most important thing is to learn from the mistakes and correct them.”

“As a player, you realize very quickly that when you go into a game and most of the attention is on you. I could have been ‘teflon’ and not arouse anyone’s emotions and not make them angry. That’s not me, I was able to touch many people for the better and for the worse.”

Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Pnini also looked ahead to the next stages of his career and when he realized that coaching was going to be his calling after his time as a player, “It’s something that has been brewing over the years. I’ve worked under so many good coaches and gained a lot of knowledge, basketball is the thing I like to do the most, I think I’m a people person and I manage to reach the players. Even as a player I knew how to do just that in sensitive situations. These are a set of tools that can help me in my next position.”

His passion for the game was unquestioned and that was an attribute that always remained as he became the ultimate winner in Israeli basketball as he tied the bow on his playing career, “At the end of the day, basketball is what I love to do the most. Every moment I touched the ball and stepped on the floor filled me with love. I didn’t have to preserve the passion in a certain way, it was just there.”

“I guess I did a few things in my career for people to call me the ultimate winner, but for me more than all of the clutch baskets that I scored, it was the team titles and awards that we achieved together which was most important. I did it my way. That’s how my playing career can be summed up.”

Sign up for our newsletter


You may also like…


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!