May 28, 2009
The Jewish Jordan: A decade after the hype died
I last mentioned Tamir Goodman, the much-hyped high schooler known as the Jewish Jordan who now plays for Maccabi Haifa, I was writing a profile about the NBA’s lone MOT, Jordan Farmar. I interviewed Goodman for that story, but ended up leaving him out.
Coincidentally, NBC Washington checked in on Goodman with the above report the following week—sort of a “Where is he now?” They capture him dribbling a ball between his legs, and having it sway his tzitzit back and forth. And discovered one surprising factoid: Goodman didn’t just become the first Orthodox Jew to play college basketball, he was the first Orthodox Jew to play professional ball in Israel.
“Goodman believes he’s a messenger from God, and he doesn’t spend much time looking back,” the NBC reporter says.
Often TV reporters are hyperbolic in such statements. But not here. When I spoke with Goodman, I was amazed by how passionate he was for the Jewish religion, and how strongly he felt that his skills at basketball were merely a vehicle for spreading Jewish pride. He seemed, as we Christians say, like a man on a mission, almost evangelistic.
“My biggest blessing that I have always had is being able to grow closer to the Torah and closer to God through the Commandments and it has just helped my basketball in every way. The same type of dedication and faith and hard work and everything that the Torah expects from you, is the same tools that you need to succeed at basketball—hard work, prepration, team work. You can’t just pray in the morning. You have to prepare. There are no days off in Judaism, just like basketball.”