"It was at that camp, with the older guys, where everybody was doing all the flashiness," Goodman said, "that's where it started, and now it's just a reaction."
And the reaction from the Jewish community to one of its own has been overwhelming. Since Goodman began playing at Talmudical last season, attendance has increased to close to 300 a game, which is up from the five or six who came before his arrival. They sit mostly on a stage, because the school's home gym has no bleachers.
With his growing reputation, yarmulke-wearing crowds have become the norm at road games as well. After Goodman, in the midst of a crossover dribble, was called for carrying the ball during the recent Gilman game, one Jewish man turned to no one in particular and said, "Hey, they let Michael Jordan do it."
Goodman realizes he's under a microscope.
"With the following, it just triples the pressure," Goodman said. "I feel there's a responsibility I have that no one else has. Being the first Orthodox Jew basketball star out of the Baltimore community, it's really hard sometimes."
As good as Goodman is, his religion could have an effect on his basketball future. Being an Orthodox Jew restricts him now from playing from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.
"For a person who makes sacrifices at an early age for what they love to do because of their religion, I really respect that," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "From a coaching standpoint, you need guys that play every day and that can play in all the games. It's not fair to the other players that work hard every day that another guy doesn't play one game and now he's starting another.
"That could develop into a touchy situation."
When the question is posed to Goodman about how his observance could affect his future as a college basketball player, he said: "I will never do anything to violate the laws of the Sabbath."
He then added he would welcome the opportunity to play major Division I basketball.
"I honestly think the main thing that makes me good is God-given talent and to be a role model for the Jewish community. That really drives me," Goodman said. "There are times when I ask, 'Why me?' I think God made me a basketball player. And I'm going to do whatever it takes to continue being his messenger."
Goodman was on his way to a Maryland game -- with seats right behind the Terps bench -- when during the pre-game show the announcer began raving about him.
"He looked at me surprised and said, 'Hey, they're talking about me,' " recalled Katz. "He feels uncomfortable with all this attention."
But Goodman might as well get used to it. During the summer at the Dome, he was paid the ultimate compliment when a man, claiming to be an intermediary for a Baltimore public school power, offered Goodman a spot on the team.
"He told me, 'You come down here, we got your tuition,' " Goodman said, " 'and you'll get all the girls.' "
On the road, Goodman still gets harassed by those unfamiliar with his game, and he continues to make believers out of doubters.
"It's irrelevant now," Goodman said. "I just go out there and do my stuff."
After doing his stuff in a road game at the Park School recently, something odd happened: Opposing fans asked Goodman for his autograph.
"To me, that was something else," Goodman said. "That motivates me. That told me I'm getting there, I'm getting there."
To many, he has already arrived.
Pub Date: 12/26/98