On Jan. 5, Aaron Liberman of Northwestern checked in for the final minute of action against Michigan in the Wildcats’ 74-51 men’s basketball loss in Ann Arbor. In the process, the redshirt freshman made history twice.
According to the Big Ten News Network, Liberman was the first player to wear a yarmulke in Big Ten Conference history.
Also, Michigan became the first NCAA Division I basketball program to host two kippah-wearing players on its court. On Dec. 27, 2000, the last night of Hanukkah, Tamir Goodman of Towson University recorded 9 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 34 minutes in the Tigers’ 73-71 loss to the Wolverines. (Aside: I attended the game featuring the “Jewish Jordan” with my hometown rabbi.)
In his first season of college ball, Liberman’s stat line reads 2 rebounds in 4 games. But the yarmulke angle has made his celebrity star shine brighter. As Yahoo News reports:
Liberman was invited to speak after a home game last month about what it’s like for him to be an Orthodox Jew playing major college hoops. The school handed approximately 200 purple yarmulkes with an N printed on them to people who attended.