NBA’s only Jewish player in Israel for workshop
JERUSALEM ? Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar, the NBA’s only Jewish player, showed his dribbling, shooting and slam-dunking skills at a clinic in southern Israel on Tuesday for Jewish and Arab kids.
The 21-year-old Farmar is the guest of the Peres Center for Peace, founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres, now Israel’s president, to encourage cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. One of the ways the center tries to improve relationships is through children playing sports together.
Farmar is the first Jewish player in the NBA since Danny Schayes – son of Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes – retired in 1999.
“I’ve gotten a warm welcome from the whole country,” he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview during the clinic in Kiryat Gat, a desert town. “People seem to recognize me everywhere, and it’s been great.”
Farmar was a key member of a Lakers team that reached the NBA Finals in June, losing to the Boston Celtics. In only his second pro season, the Los Angeles native and UCLA standout backed up veteran point guard Derek Fisher.
Farmar’s parents divorced when he was a child. His mother is Jewish, and his stepfather is Israeli. He has visited here twice before with his family, but said this time has been different.
He said his heritage helped him relate to the Jewish and Arab basketball hopefuls he met in Israel. His father, former baseball player Damon Farmar, is black.
“When I go to the black neighborhoods, people relate to me, and when I go the Jewish neighborhood they relate to me, too,” he said.
Farmar is in Israel for an eight-day visit accompanied by his relative – former star Israeli women’s basketball player Limor Mizrahi.
The Peres Center has hosted leading sporting figures in Israel before, including Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo, Cameroon national soccer team striker Samuel Eto’o and former New York Giants star football running back Tiki Barber.