Local Hoops: Tamir Goodman hopes for revival at Maccabi Haifa

"The Jewish Jordan," now 26, was the first from the tryout to officially commit to the team.

tamir goodman 88 (photo credit: )
tamir goodman 88
(photo credit: )
Resurgent BSL club Maccabi Haifa Heat pulled off a PR coup on Monday when it signed Tamir Goodman, the Orthodox Jew from Baltimore formerly known as "The Jewish Jordan," at a two-day tryout in Florida. Goodman picked up the nickname after a scholarship offer from the University of Maryland transformed him into a media sensation in 1999. But while he shone at high school, Goodman was less successful at college level when he played at Towson University. This will be his second period in Israel, after a disappointing few years in the country which saw him sign with Maccabi Tel Aviv but play for Givat Shmuel. Now 26, Goodman was the first from the tryout to officially commit to the team and has joined five other senior Israeli recruits for the 2008-2009 season, including Ido Kozikaro and Moshe Mizrahi of the country's national team. But he is bringing more to the organization than pure athleticism, and it is likely that the Maccabi Haifa Heat franchise, lead by owner Jeffrey Rosen, is counting on Goodman's celebrity-status to help fill the city's Romema arena. "We are delighted to have Tamir join the team," said Rosen. "We expect that Tamir's signing will bridge the relationship between the Israeli and American Jewish community, as well as the Israeli and American basketball community." The 1.91 meter guard has also competed professionally in the United States and, after playing only two games for the Maryland Nighthawks in the newly formed Premier Basketball League (PBL) last season due to injuries, Goodman is anxious to suit up in Haifa. "I look forward to helping the Haifa Heat as much as possible, both on and off the court. I share the same dream and vision as Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen and I hope to spread that throughout America and Israel as much as possible," he said after signing his contract. Last season Haifa was promoted to the BSL for the first time in 10 years after teetering on the edge of basketball oblivion. The turnaround is in large part due to the leadership of Rosen, who after just one season has reinvigorated the city's passion for the sport and propelled the team back to the forefront. "I'm very excited, very pleased" Rosen told The Jerusalem Post last month of his first season as the team's owner. "It was a year that met our maximum expectations... I felt very grateful and very fortunate that we were able to achieve such a high goal in our first year." He and his staff have since expressed confidence in Goodman's ability to contribute to the Haifa Heat's continuing development and success. "We are excited to give Tamir another opportunity to play in Israel. His signing is another piece of the puzzle in building a winning Maccabi Haifa Heat club," said coach Avi Ashkenazi. Goodman's contributions to Israeli society transcend the scope of the basketball court, and through the Tamir Goodman Charities he has aided Israeli children who have been affected by Kassam rockets in Sderot. Goodman also founded the Tamir Goodman Athletic Leadership Basketball Camp in the United States, which seeks to develop the skills of Jewish and African American players as well as to strengthen the relationship between the two communities. Committed to his Judaism, Goodman insists that he does not participate in games or practices that fall on Shabbat or other religious holidays. He even turned down his Division 1 scholarship at the University of Maryland when it became clear that his religious convictions were becoming a point of contention in the negotiations.