Jewish Jordan Update

Seems he’s not up there, with the Rare Air. Turns out it was premature to put Tamir Goodman in the same category as one of the bestif not the bestpros in the game. For right now, he’s not even a decent college player. Not yet anyway.

Sportswriters gave Goodmanan Orthodox Jew who wears a yarmulke when he playsthe “Jewish Jordan” moniker when he was in high school and averaging more than 35 points per game for a yeshiva in Maryland. Now a point guard at Towson University in Baltimore, Goodman is averaging a mere 5.3 points per game on 35 percent shooting for a team, which, at 10-12 (6-7), is in the middle of the pack in the American East Conference.

Goodman’s reputation (and accompanying media hype) in high school earned him a scholarship to Maryland under coach Gary Williams, who made plans to alter the Terps’ schedule so that the 6-3, 155-pound Goodman wouldn’t have to play during the Jewish Sabbathbetween sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. But a torn ACL slowed Goodman and his game, and he and Maryland parted ways (on less than amicable terms). So now he plays for Towson, and competes against the likes of Maine and Drexel instead of North Carolina and Duke. And since it plays in a less prestigious conference without a huge television contract, Towson was able to reschedule games to accommodate Goodman.

The season has gone well, says Coach Mike Jaskulski, who now keeps a Jewish calendar on his wall. But there have been some slipups. During a recent Saturday film session, the coach asked Goodman a question. Recalls Jaskulski, “Tamir said, ‘Coach, I’m not allowed to watch the screen.’ ”

Goodman’s also part of an experiment in religious coexistencehis roommate, Mohamed Fofana, is a Muslim and a native of Mali, West Africa. The two first-year students don’t talk much politics, says Goodman. Instead, they stick to basketball. “When I put on my tefillin in the morning to daven,” says Goodman, referring to ritual items used by observant Jews when they pray, “he’s very respectful. He’s probably listening to Tupac.”

Mac the Moose

The Rangers’ 7-2 defeat at home last week to the expansion Atlanta Thrashers may wind up ranking as one of the team’s all-time lows, right down there with the NHL-record 15-0 loss to Detroit in 1944 and the Broad Street Bullies beating up Dale Rolfe while his teammates stood by and watched. Despite their expensive payroll, the 2000-01 Blueshirts are going nowhere fastwhich makes us wonder why on earth they got rid of John MacLean back in November.

Could he possibly have been any worse than some of the guys the Rangers have out there now? GM Glen Sather dumped MacLean, scorer of 406 NHL goals since the 1983-84 season, after he played only two games this year and exiled him to the Manitoba Moose of the IHL. The problem, supposedly, was MacLean’s $2.5 million annual salary, and the fact that he cleared waivers twice without being claimedthough that surely had to do with other teams’ reluctance to take on the hefty paycheck.

So how’s MacLean doing now, out on the frozen Canadian prairie? “I’m still making $2.5 million,” he tells Jockbeat from Winnipeg. “The Rangers are paying my salary. In fact, the team salary cap here is what I make.” What happened between him and Sather? “I don’t know. No one talked to me over the off-season. But here I am in Manitoba. It’s not the ideal situation; it’s a struggle sometimes keeping your focus. I’m dealing with it the best I can and getting through it.”

The only way he can get back into the NHL this year is for the Rangers to deal him before the trading deadline next month, but as MacLean says, “I have no control over that.” Hey, Slats: As long as you’re paying the guy’s salary anyway, trade him somewhere and get something backa defenseman, a draft choice, anything. When you exiled MacLean as a signal that you wouldn’t tolerate overpaid, underachieving veterans, you dumped the wrong guy. What are you left with now? A team full of overpaid, underachieving veterans.

Asking for Directions

Once the novelty of the XFL’s (adult) cartoon football wears off, there will be more serious pigskin predicaments to deal with. And while it’s not as sexy as silicone-saturated leather-clad pom-pom girls or even microphone-amplified shoulder-pad-to-sternum late hits, the NFL will soon be dealing with the issue of realignment (it’s expected to be the hot topic at the owners meetings next month now that the expansion Houston Texans are set to begin play in 2002).

This might be the geographically challenged NFL’s last chance to put its teams where Rand McNally says they belong. It’s either that, or adopt the NHL’s old policy of naming divisions after league demigods. Because we’re freaked out by the idea of a Daily News headline screaming “Giants Bomb Eagles to Clinch Rozelle Division Title!” we’ll suggest the former.

Here’s our idea of how the league should look:

There. Tradition upheld. Jet fuel saved. Geography teachers happy. You’re right, we’re dreaming.

Contributors: Peter Ephross, Jeff Z. Klein, Jeff Ryan Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 6, 2001

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