Reevaluating ‘Jewish Jordan’ Tamir Goodman
Ep. 2: In the basketball-crazed ’90s, a Jewish sports hero was anointed. But looking beyond the headlines, did we get the story right?
In the 1990s, basketball dominated popular culture. There were the six-time NBA champion Chicago Bulls, the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, and the movie Space Jam—and the face of all of it was Michael Jordan. Everyone wanted to be like Mike, even the Jews.
Enter Tamir Goodman, a 16-year-old Orthodox Jew playing at Talmudical Academy in Pikesville, Maryland. His skills on the court quickly earned him attention from local and then national media, who dubbed him the “Jewish Jordan.” This episode analyzes the enormous pressure placed on a young star who became a cultural curiosity, and reconsiders whether we got the story right in the first place.
Episode 2 features a conversation with Goodman, who now lives in Israel with his family and runs youth basketball camps, plus interviews with Goodman’s longtime friend and former New York Knick Mike Sweetney, his high school coach Harold Katz, and Washington, D.C., sportswriter Dave McKenna.
Over the course of this series, host Meredith Shiner will be exploring how Jewish culture, American culture, and sports culture intersect. She’ll talk to journalists, athletes, amateur and professional sports nerds, and fans who have spent as much time obsessing over these topics as she has.
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