Years ago, the Jewish Jordan — what Sports Illustrated nicknamed Tamir Goodman when he was just 17 years old — shocked Baltimore with his dedication to both basketball and Judaism. Now, Goodman, 39, lives in Jerusalem with his wife Judy and their five children.
Growing up in Baltimore, Goodman developed his skills in the Talmudical Academy gym. However, when the school decided to shut down their varsity basketball program before his senior year, Goodman graduated from Takoma Academy.
In 2002, Goodman moved to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C. and eventually settled in the Jewish state.
Do you ever come back to Baltimore for a visit?
Yes. I used to come back like once a year before the pandemic, but I have not come back since it started. I am eagerly waiting to come and visit. I still have family in Baltimore. I have everlasting memories in Baltimore, and I don’t think I would have been able to live out my dream the way I did if I had not grown up in Baltimore.
Do you feel that sports ever detracted from your practice of faith?
I think the opposite. I feel like sports helped me to have a personal relationship with Hashem, one that wasn’t just going through the motions or put in some specific box, but a meaningful and intimate relationship with Hashem. Judaism and sports to me were always one thing. My way of living has always been to try and combine the physical with the spiritual. I continue to find every day how beautifully balanced they work together.
When you moved to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, did you know that you were going to stay there?
I always wanted to make aliyah and to be close with my grandmother. I am so thankful that I got to live out my dream and play professionally for seven years in Israel. I got to serve in the IDF and meet my wife. Coming to Israel has been an absolute blessing and something that I appreciate every single day.
How was your time in the IDF?
I think it was very good because the best way to grow is out of your comfort zone. Originally, I didn’t want to be in the APC unit, a personnel carrier, because I thought that would be bad for basketball. I wanted to continue my basketball career after I finished in the IDF. I did everything I could to try and get out of that unit but no one let me. I felt like, I was already there, I might as well embrace it. Then I found out I had the best sergeant and a great group of soldiers. It did not take away from basketball at all. They allowed me to practice basketball two hours a day. I feel so proud that I got to serve in the IDF and honor my grandmother who was a Holocaust survivor.
What are you up to now?
I reconnected with my dear friend David Warschawski from Baltimore, and we launched a new basketball net that is antimicrobial and moisture wicking so that when the ball goes through the hoop, it cleans off the bacteria and the sweat from the ball. It helps you play better and keeps players safer. It is called the Aviv Net. I run a basketball camp every summer, I do some scouting for NBA teams and I am very involved in general in the sports tech scene in Israel. I oversee a charity in Israel called Hoops For Kids. We have 38 locations in Israel that do after-school basketball mentorship for underprivileged at-risk youth as well as asylum seekers.
How does it feel to be coaching the next generation?
That makes me feel really good because I can no longer play due to injury but when I hopefully help the next generation of players on and off the court, it makes my soul happy. It makes me feel like I am fulfilling my mission in this world. I’ve had a really special relationship with Yeshiva University and Stern for the last eight years now where I’ve been training their players during their gap year in Israel. I am still on the court a lot.
Does anyone ever call you the Jewish Jordan anymore?
It still comes up almost daily. I use it to inspire and connect people. I never really thought of myself that way, and I still don’t think of myself that way. If it can help other people, maybe that’s a reason for being it in the first place.
Do your children like sports?
Yes. Everyone in our family likes sports. Everyone in our family can pursue any dreams they want, and we will support them one hundred percent. It just happens that they love sports.