‘Jordan haYehudi" is bringing his pinpoint passes to Israel.
Tamir Goodman, the Baltimore basketballer dubbed "the Jewish Jordan" by Sports Illustrated, has signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel’s perennial championship team.
"The first thing that came to my mind was baruch Hashem [blessed is God]," Goodman, 20, told the Baltimore Jewish Times. "There is no other way to look at it. Without Hashem’s blessing, this never would have happened."
Goodman, a 6’3" guard who wears a kipa on the court, most recently played a season-plus at Towson University in Maryland. He had signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Maryland, then turned it down, after starring at his hometown’s Talmudic Academy and a Christian day school.
Goodman will be the only Sabbath-observant player in Israel’s professional league. His contract specifies that he won’t have to play or practice on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.
Terms of Goodman’s contract were not disclosed, but his agent, Steven Heumann, said "it is in line with other young European star caliber players for first-time contracts." Israeli players are known to receive salaries in the six figures, sometimes seven.
Practice for the 82-game schedule starts next month. "I couldn’t be happier for him," Heumann said. "He’s such a wonderful guy. Now he’s a pro."
A phenom in high school, Goodman saw his stock sink after a series of injuries, a confrontation last season with his Towson coach and adjustment to college-level competition. Experts predicted that his athletic future lay in Israel’s pro league, rather than the National Basketball Association.
His ability to set up teammates should be appreciated in Israeli hoops.
"Everyone has a special talent in the world. With me, it’s basketball," Goodman told the Jewish Times. "I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but it is so clear to me what Hashem has given me an opportunity to do."
In the first year of his contract, Goodman might be loaned to the Hapoel Galil Elyon team to develop his abilities.
During earlier trips to Israel, speaking fluent Hebrew, he put on demonstrations that attracted thousands of basketball fans. That’s when they learned how to say the Jewish Jordan in Hebrew.