Jewish Journal

Don’t call it a comeback: Jordan Farmar shines against Rockets

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 9, 2009 | 1:22 am

Jordan Farmar’s stock had fallen.

The Lakers back-up point guard had lost favor with Phil Jackson. And with fans. And he didn’t play a single minute during the final three games of the opening series against the Utah Jazz.

“It’s been up and down trying to stay level-headed and consistent and continue to improve and help this team however I can. I’m still only 22, but this is my third year and I wanted to be farther along. Starting or close to it, definitely playing a lot of minutes,” Farmar told me last month, before the Jazz series. “I have no concerns it’s going to work out for me. I care too much and I work too hard. Hopefully, we’ll be able to come home with a championship this year.”

Tonight he made his triumphant return.

With an opening in the starting lineup brought on by Derek Fisher’s one-game suspension, Farmar was given a chance to quarterback the team in game three against the Houston Rockets. He didn’t disappoint.

The league’s only Jewish player, who rather than pout during his team on the end of the bench had readied himself for his chance, put up more than respectable numbers: 12 points, five rebounds and seven assists, not to mention two steals and a block.

Mazel tov—and I don’t even like the Lakers.

For the lengthy profile of Farmar that I wrote last month, click here. An excerpt is after the jump:

Jordan Robert Farmar was born Nov. 30, 1986, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to Damon and Melinda Farmar. He didn’t come out of the womb clutching a basketball, but he might as well have. His father was a minor league baseball player and his godfather is former major league all-star center fielder Eric Davis. Farmar quickly learned to love sports. He started playing basketball at age 4 and never wanted to do anything else.

Like many Jewish identities, Farmar’s is complicated. His parents — black and white, Christian and Jew — divorced when Farmar was 3, and he went to live with his mom, who soon met a Jew far more observant than she had been.

Yehuda Kolani had been in Los Angeles on vacation. He told Farmar’s mother not to fall in love, and that he wasn’t going to go native. After he returned to Tel Aviv, Melinda followed and brought him back to Los Angeles. They soon married, adding another tint to Jordan Farmar’s multicultural experience.

“I was born in a Christian family,” Farmar said recently. “And then my mom and dad got divorced and she married an Israeli. He was Orthodox when he was in Israel. He came over here and really reformed a lot. He wanted to have a family and treated me like his son. Everything after that was being raised in a Jewish household. Doing Shabbat dinner, celebrating the holidays and all that.”

Farmar is seated on the couch of his Redondo Beach home. It was Saturday evening and Farmar spoke as he watched North Carolina thump Villanova in the NCAA semi-final game. Over the next hour, he talked about improving his play, building his brand and whether it was more painful to miss out on an NCAA title in 2006 or NBA championship ring last year.

“College,” he said. “I was playing a lot and felt like what I did every night would make or break what happened with our team.”

He shared vaguely the details of his Jewish upbringing, largely because his experiences were limited. Farmar attended Hebrew school at Temple Judea in Tarzana and became a bar mitzvah. From his days playing at the YMCA through high school, Farmar would invite his teammates over for Shabbat dinner. He would bless the wine; his younger half sister, Shoshana, would take care of the bread.

“And that is about it,” Melinda Kolani said in a later interview. “We have friends from all nationalities and all races and all religions, so [being Jewish] is not the major focus.” But, she added: “I’m proud of being Jewish, and I want my kids to know what it is to be Jewish and to have their heritage.”

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