April 27, 2009
Jordan Farmar, NBA’s lone Jew, looks to rebound
“I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller.” How many Jews have hummed that line, and not just because Skee-Lo dropped one mad rhyme?
Every time I come home from playing basketball, I lament my physical stature. Short, skinny shooters—that’s what we consider ourselves: shooters—can only get so far; even J.J. Redick is 6’4.”
“This is ridiculous. Jews can’t play basketball.” Oh, the wisdom of Eric Cartman. And that look on Kyle’s face? I know it. But what if there was an era when Jews dominated basketball, when the chosen game strategy was known as Jewball, when a guy who was only 5’4,” barely taller than Mugsy Bogues (pictured with Manute Bol) and half a foot shorter than me, could be such an overwhelming force that he would be considered one of the greatest players in the game?
There was, and I wrote about it at length in this week’s Jewish Journal. Here’s an excerpt:
But by 1999, the NBA’s only Jewish player was retiring, and for the next seven years the league would remain Jew free. Then in 2006, a talented point guard from the San Fernando Valley, from UCLA, from a mixed ethnic and racial background, was taken in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Today Jordan Farmar, the focus of my story about basketball’s Jewish roots, remains the only dual Member of the Tribe and of the National Basketball Association. He doesn’t consider himself religious and doesn’t celebrate Jewish holidays, but Farmar also doesn’t shy from his Jewish heritage and upbringing:
Jews had been looking for a while for their Jewish Jordan—remember Tamir Goodman?—and they have taken a lot of pride in Jordan Farmar’s success. Personally, I’ve pulled for Farmar not just because he’s a Bruin but because, like Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun, he gives hope to short, scrawny, poor-sighted Jews everywhere. I even found myself rooting for the Lakers during the NBA Finals last year (truly shocking) and hoping that Farmar would deliver them from the Boston Celtics.
But the back-up point guard struggled through a tough season, complete with the first serious injury of his career and diminished playing time. Last season he averaged more than 20 minutes and nine points per game; in the opening playoff series against the Utah Jazz, Farmar has played a grand total of eight minutes in four games, including zero in the last two, and has scored just two points.
It’s unlikely he’ll get more time in Game Five tonight. But we can certainly hope.
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