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Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Basketball Story

One of the first basketball games I ever went to was in Washington, DC. I was about eleven years old, and as a Jewish CODA, this was a big game for me; I was going to see Tamir Goodman, AKA the ‘Jewish Jordan’, play the Model School for the Deaf at Gallaudet University. 

As an eleven-year-old basketball-lover who was going to see one of the country’s best players play an all-deaf team, my senses were captivated – so much that I’d forgotten it was supposed to snow that night, and I might get to miss school the next day. 

One half of the court hosted the Tamir Goodman show. He hoisted shots from distances requiring telescopes to ensure witness. But what would stick with me more was what happened in the years to follow. Not that he devoted his life to his faith, but that he was humble enough to choose something important to him, not others – his faith over basketball. He relinquished a million childhood dreams for something that he knew would last.

On the other side of the court, however, was the Model offense, which usurped Goodman’s throne as attraction-of-the-night. I’d grown up with deaf parents, yet had never seen a deaf basketball team play. So much of basketball involves talking – calling out screens, defenses, plays, etc. Just as with so much in life, communication. But this team seemed to do it just as well, if not better than other teams.

Tamir Goodman could’ve gone to the University of Maryland to play ball, if not for the weekend limitations imposed by his faith, possibly even pro if he’d developed enough (he did go play pro ball in Israel). But it was the Model School for the Deaf that was winning. There was an almost spiritual connection between the players, as if they shared a mind not in spite but perhaps because of their need to communicate tacitly, to intuit, to anticipate.


When I walked outside the Gallaudet gymnasium, it wasn’t snowing. But I didn’t notice. 

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