Jewish Journal


June 5, 2008

Jewish Jordan to be messiah of NBA Finals?



In less than an hour, the LA Lakers will take the floor for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. Coming off the bench at some point during the first quarter likely will be the “Jewish Jordan.”

That was once a name claimed by Tamir Goodman, a red-headed Orthodox kid from Baltimore who could seriously play back in the day. (Goodman is my age.) He had a scholarship at the University of Maryland, but that fell through when he refused to play on the Sabbath, and two years later he signed a contract with Israel’s top team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, and, surprisingly became the league’s first observant Jew. Here he is talking with Gelf:

Anything I’ve ever done, I only did for Judaism. All along, all I’ve ever said is, “I’m just trying to use my God-given talent.” I’m no different than anyone else—you’re a reporter, a lawyer is a lawyer; for me, my talent is basketball. I don’t know; it’s not like I wanted it, or asked for it. I try to be as simple and as humble as possible all the time.

Goodman is still playing, but he’s proven to be no Jordan. He was a standout high school player, and for the Tribe that was enough. Such hype is familiar to anyone who watches college hoops. Every year or so, there is a college player like J.J. Reddick or Adam Morrison, often dubbed Great White Hope, who receives all kinds of accolades only to fall flat in the pros. The optimism is all the more myopic, though, when it comes to Jewish basketball players, and athletes in general. But shortly after I graduated from UCLA, the Bruins picked up a legit point guard from Taft High School. And wouldn’t you know it, he wasn’t only good; he was Jewish.

Jordan Farmar might be a back-up point guard to Derek Fisher, but he’s made some clutch plays this year, including a ridiculous block on a player several inches taller. He has a crucial role as the Lakers vie for another championship, that of point guard relief and occasional shooter, and I’ll be rooting for him, even though I can’t stand the Lakers. If anyone deserves the nom de guerre “Jewish Jordan,” it’s Farmar. (Though, personally, I wish people would stop looking for Jordan; there will never be another, just at there will never be another Wilt or LeBron, being compared to Jordan here.) Three years ago, Farmar talked with The Jewish Journal about growing up Jewish:

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