Sports Illustrated dubbed him “The Jewish Jordan” in 1999 for his prowess on the high school basketball court.
Eight years later, Tamir Goodman, an Orthodox Jew, has signed a contract to play pro ball for his hometown Baltimore Nighthawks, a franchise in the new Premiere Basketball League, which makes its debut in January.
Goodman — a six-foot-three, 180-pound guard who wears a kipa and tzitzit while he plays — averaged more than 35 points per game in his junior year at Baltimore’s Talmudical Academy. He was awarded a scholarship from the University of Maryland, but quit when the team refused to accommodate his Shabbat observance. Instead, he attended Towson University in Maryland, but left after disputes with the basketball coach.
Goodman moved to Israel, where he played for Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Givat Shmuel, a situation made difficult because of high expectations and a series of injuries.
The Nighthawks have promised to honor Goodman’s religious commitment, a key point in his signing with the fledgling league. They have designed their schedule so he will miss only two home games.
Goodman spoke with NJ Jewish News via telephone after a press conference announcing his signing with the Nighthawks.
NJJN: So how does it feel to be back in your hometown?
Goodman: Very good, thank God. I’m very excited. I can’t thank the Nighthawks enough for making this possible and working everything out with Shabbos. Every Jewish kid should now know that you can be a pro basketball player or a professional in any field without doing it on Shabbos.
NJJN: So what made you decide to return to the States to play?
Goodman: It’s a new professional league with a new attitude and a new motto, and that’s really what attracted me the most. It’s going to be like sports was 25 or 30 years ago: camps and clinics, family-friendly, hardworking. It’s going to be pure basketball.
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