Purim is always a bit of a scramble. With a bunch of mitzvot to fulfill throughout the day, scheduling is tough. Now imagine trying to slide a professional basketball game into the mix.
That’s exactly what Ryan Turell did last week as he and the Motor City Cruise visited the Long Island Nets on Purim day. The NBA G League matchup was slated for 11 a.m. at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The schedule having been made many months ago, there was plenty of buzz amongst fans trying to take advantage of one of the two times that Turell was playing in the tristate area this season.
While a late Tuesday morning isn’t exactly the best time to take your family to a game, fans were somewhat lucky in a sense. The game falling on Purim day meant that kids were off of school and most parents were already planning on taking the day off of work.
But if you think the fans got lucky, it was Turell who might have been the most happy about the scheduling quirk. For him, there was more than just the game on Purim day to be happy about. Spending time with his friends and family on Purim was a welcome, out of the way, middle stop on a road trip for Turell.
The four-game trip had the Cruise traveling for two weeks away from their home base of Detroit. Turell was lucky enough to have plenty of options for hearing the Megillah in Long Island. Being in Grand Rapids, Michigan, or Fort Wayne, Indiana (the stops before and after New York), would certainly have made things more difficult for him.
Ryan was able to be with his parents (who came in from Los Angeles) on Monday night, as they went to Cedarhurst for Megillah reading at Chabad of the Five Towns, followed by a break-fast meal at Graze Smokehouse with some family and friends.
“It was a real blessing from Hashem that the schedule allowed us this opportunity,” said Brad Turell, Ryan’s father. “It was so great to be able to see (Ryan) play and spend Purim together.”
The next morning, plenty of fans showed up to the arena after hearing Megillat Esther and delivering some mishloach manot.
The cheers were noticeably louder when Turell entered the game in the first quarter and Jewish fans could be seen throughout the crowd trying to make Turell feel more at home with their support.
In 16 minutes of playing time, Turell had four points and three rebounds in what turned out to be a very close game. Those totals are fairly consistent with his averages as he has become a valued staple of the Cruise rotation throughout the season.
The seats around the court were littered with Turell supporters. From fans wearing Turell-branded merchandise (sporting the same “RT” logo that could be seen on Ryan’s kippah) to kids in costumes, the game certainly felt different from your typical minor league basketball atmosphere.
Turell hung back after the final whistle to sign autographs and take pictures for fans, a rarity (for demand reasons) in the G League. It’s something that’s become fairly standard for him this season as proud Jewish fans show up to many of his games.
With the game on Purim morning, Turell had to wait to hear Megillah until afterwards, but being in New York came in handy as he was able to arrange for somebody to come read for him later.
Turell finished his day with a seuda at the home of his former coach, Elliot Steinmetz. The YU basketball coach is coming off a solid season as his team was competitive even after Turell and other stars had graduated. He sat courtside and was happy to see Turell play professionally.
“It’s great to see his progress on the court,” said Steinmetz. “It’s awesome to see him compete on this level.”
Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].