Thoughts on Tamir Goodman’s Brief Towson Career

So the news crossed the wire that Tamir Goodman, who spent a season-and-a-half at Towson, announced his retirement from basketball. Goodman has been playing in Israel for the last few years, not a surprise for someone once dubbed “the Jewish Jordan.”

Goodman never lived up to that label -- nor did he ever particularly like it -- and his professional career wasn’t particularly special from an on-court perspective.

Still, his time at Towson happened to coincide with my two years covering the men’s basketball team and two particular moments stand out in my mind all these years later.

The first came in Goodman’s freshman season. He was starting for the Tigers, who weren’t having a particularly great season. Still, his presence brought fans out to the games (home and road), particularly Jewish fans. During winter break, I was at home in Hartford when Towson came up for a road game against the University of Hartford.

Sitting on press row for the game, I was struck by how much it felt like a Towson home game. There was a huge Jewish rooting section, there specifically for Goodman -- most of them had probably never been to a Hartford Hawks game before, and didn’t care at all about the home team. Hartford won the game, and afterwards, Goodman just wanted to get on the team bus, but he took the time to meet with the large Jewish contingent that stuck around to greet him. That was what struck me throughout that season -- as much as Goodman was singled out by the Jewish community, he just wanted to be part of the team.

Things had shifted by the next season, when Michael Hunt stepped in as the new coach, replacing the fired Mike Jaskulski. Coach Jaz had been the one who reached out to Goodman after Maryland rescinded its scholarship offer, and Goodman had worked well with him. Goodman never got along with Hunt from the beginning, as Hunt wasn’t willing to just hand him a starting job.

Early in the season, Goodman was backing up Brian Allen and had seen his minutes drastically cut, from 27 MPG as a freshman compared to about 12 as a sophomore (as an aside, both Allen and Goodman ranked among the national leaders in turnover percentage, which was Hunt’s biggest source of frustration every time I interviewed him).

After one particularly bad loss, Hunt went off on the team in the locker room. Though no one who was in the room that night has ever detailed exactly what happened, Goodman filed assault charges against Hunt, alleging that the coach kicked a stool at him, then held it over his head. The charges were eventually dropped. Goodman never played for Towson again, and Hunt was gone two years later.

I still vividly remember two things about that incident. The first was talking to the University Police department the next day. At The Towerlight, we had a good relationship with the police department and they’d always been forthcoming with information -- not in this case. This wasn’t because Goodman was an athlete -- the police once fed us details about a raid on a local bar in which more than a dozen Towson athletes were cited for underage drinking -- and we never found out whether Goodman’s side or the University itself put the clamps on the information coming out, but the lack of information itself was very enlightening.

The other came the next day, at Towson’s practice - which was already strange because it was being held at Burdick Gym instead of the Towson Center. I’d been to countless practices over my three-plus years at the school, and for about 99% of those, I was the only media member in attendance. Not at this practice. Reporters from the AP, The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, among others, were there. Towson’s SID was also there, making sure that no one was talking to Hunt or any of the players about the Goodman incident.

After the practice, Hunt didn’t want to talk to anyone, but he saw me there, and singled me out in front of the media. I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of “Adam’s the only one of you who’s been to a practice before, so he’s the only one I’m talking to.”

I still wasn’t allowed to ask him any questions about Goodman (well, technically, I could have asked, but he wouldn’t have answered, and the interview would have ended right there), so instead I asked about the two other players who weren’t at practice that day (Allen, who had a family situation, and Mike Shin, who had a class that conflicted with that scheduled practice every week). Hunt answered, and proceeded to answer all my other questions too. You could tell he was pissed about the entire situation though, and on some level, he was glad Goodman wouldn’t be coming back.

Now Goodman’s basketball career is done and he moves on to the next phase of his life. I wish him all the best.

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