September 17, 2009
There's been many young players slapped with the dreaded "next Michael Jordan" label over the years — but perhaps none as ambitious and mind-boggling as Tamir Goodman, the former high school phenom once known as the "Jewish Jordan."
You remember Goodman. The "kid with the lid" started turning Sports Illustrated heads and pages at Talmudical Academy in Baltimore — where he averaged 35.4 points as a junior — before his skills earned him a scholarship offer at Maryland. The news was huge.
However, the team's schedule of practices and games meant having to play ball on Friday nights and Saturdays, against the rules of Orthodox Judaism. Goodman was released from his verbal commitment in 1999.
"If it comes to playing basketball or the Sabbath, I'm going to go with the Sabbath," Goodman said at the time. "It's not even close. I'm never going to change my mind."
He didn't, and his religion sent him to play briefly for Towson University, where his career lasted less than two years. He then signed with the Israeli pro league — playing for four teams in five seasons amid a succession of injuries — before calling it quits this week.
"'I did not think I'd be retiring at 27 — there's no way,' Goodman said Wednesday after a news conference held not at an arena but at a Brooklyn museum dedicated to Jewish children. 'But I have learned it's been perfectly ordained, and it's a better plan than what I thought to myself.'"
Goodman will serve as director of Haifa Hoops for Kids, a new charity affiliated with Maccabi Haifa, his last team in Israel, which raises money to help disadvantaged children in Israel attend basketball games.
Sounds like a job the real Jordan would approve of.