Tamir Goodman, 30, has been known as basketball’s “Jewish Jordan” but these days he’s an inspirational speaker promoting Jewish identity, president of Tamir Goodman Sports Consultant LLC, a husband and father of four.
A former professional player for the Maryland Nighthawks who’d previously sported jerseys for six seasons with Israeli teams, Goodman will be the guest speaker at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Men’s Night Out on Monday, April 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.
Goodman is proud of his basketball prowess — and his Orthodox Jewish identity. “I’m the first Jewish athlete to play Division 1 college basketball and professional basketball and not play on Shabbat,” Goodman told the AJP from Cleveland, where he lives with his family, coaching boys’ junior varsity and girls’ basketball at a Jewish day school.
Although he retired as a basketball player in 2009, Goodman recalls, “I gave 1,000 percent for the Jewish people. It was never about me. I came back from three career-ending injuries,” until a final injury made it impossible for him to keep playing. Still, he continues, “my injuries were my greatest blessing. I knew Hashem didn’t want me to play anymore. I’m a better person from my challenges in life, not necessarily my accomplishments. I’m at peace that I can’t play anymore.”
Goodman grew up in Baltimore, Md., in an Orthodox Jewish family, with six brothers and two sisters. He began playing basketball at age 5 and first garnered national attention as a junior in high school, averaging 35.4 points per game for the Talmudic Academy of Baltimore. Goodman’s story received worldwide media coverage, including Sports Illustrated and CNN, ESPN, 60 Minutes and Fox Sports. He was ranked the 25th-best high school player in the country in 11th grade, and later received a scholarship to the University of Maryland.
Although Goodman isn’t in the game anymore, he hasn’t left basketball. He trains Jewish coaches and has worked with more than 30,000 Jewish children in basketball camps across North America, England and Israel, including as director of Haifa Hoops for Kids, which raises money to help disadvantaged children in Israel through basketball. A dual U.S. and Israeli citizen, Goodman served in the Israel Defense Forces and received the Outstanding Soldier Award for his service.
Orthodox Judaism has even informed his current consulting business. Goodman created “the high-performance, compression-fit, moisture-wicking, odor-wicking, UV protected” Sport Strings tzitzit, which he knew was needed “from my years of playing basketball and praying hard.”
Goodman will speak about his “emotions of Jewish pride” in Tucson, his first trip to Arizona. “From what I hear you have a very special community, and I’m excited about coming to Tucson,” he says, adding that he expects a lot of laughing together.
Alexander (Lex) Sears, who has been in the Tucson real estate business since 1971, will receive the 2012 Mentor Award. A past president of the Tucson Jewish Community Center, Sears founded and is past co-chair of the Federation’s Real Estate and Allied Professionals group.
Admission to Men’s Night Out is $36, plus a minimum pledge of $180 to the Federation Campaign for men over age 30; under 30, a minimum pledge of $36; students, a minimum pledge of $18. Deli and beer will be served. RSVP by April 11 to Rebecca Goodman (no relation) at 577-9393, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.