More evidence that being a childhood star causes damage comes from Gelf Magazine in a piece tracking down Tamir Goodman. The former high school hoops phenom/media darling from Pikesville, Md., never really had a chance to live up to the expectations created by all those newspaper, TV, and radio pieces produced during his junior year at Talmudical Academy of Baltimore.

All these years later, he uses his own Web site to blame his failures on the the administrations of the Talmudical Academy and the University of Maryland (which backed out of a scholarship offer made to the then-11th-grader when it realized he really wasn’t very good), and Towson Coach Michael Hunt (a Crank Yankers favorite, no doubt), whom Goodman accuses of verbal and physical abuse and “criminal behavior.” After flopping at Towson, Goodman fled to Israel, and is now playing in the second division of the Israeli Premier League. He makes it clear he’s still in the game only to serve God and country. There’s no hint that he might not be as talented as well-wishers wanted him to be.

I first saw Goodman play in January 1999 just before his story broke out of Pikesville’s tight-knit Orthodox community. The home game, against a talentless team from Antioch Christian, was played at the academy’s tiny home court, which was housed not in a gym but in something called the Multi-Purpose Room, in front of hundreds of Orthodox youngsters and parents who acted as if it could have been their first sporting experience. The Christians prevailed, but while Goodman signed autographs after the final buzzer, his coach bragged that there was no bigger talent in the area, and his father told me that Goodman felt like he was playing basketball not for love of the game but “for the Jewish people.”

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