Original Article Published on The Jerusalem Post
Jordan Farmar is carefully moving around the court, shooting three pointers and free throws. This is despite a groin injury, which has kept him out of the New Jersey Nets lineup for four straight games. It was only a week ago that Farmar’s three-point last-minute score led the Nets to victory. Towards the end of a practice session at the New Jersey Nets training facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the bearded 1.88 m, 82 kg guard sat down with the Jerusalem Post to discuss basketball and life in America and Israel.
The 25-year-old Farmar grew up in Los Angeles, California. His father is African-American and Christian. His step-father, who raised him and is a huge influence on Farmar, is Israeli and Jewish. Farmar studied at UCLA and was the 26th pick in the first round of the 2006 NBA draft. He played with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2006-2010, has played with the New Jersey Nets since 2010 to the present and played for Maccabi Tel Aviv for four months, during the recent NBA strike. His teams have won the NBA championship twice and he was selected as Euroleague Player of the Week in November, 2011. Farmar wears number 2 and averages 10.6 points per game.
You are very close to Omri Casspi. Did you get to hang out with him when the Cleveland Cavaliers were in town recently? How is he doing?
I saw him last Monday night. He is in a tough spot.The NBA is a big business. He’s gotta keep working. It goes up and down if you are not a super star player. I know he had an injury recently and is trying to get back in form.
How did you guys first meet?
For a while, I was the only Jewish player in the NBA. Then he got drafted and joined me! He is the first Israeli-born player. He came to town to play us – we connected around Israel and being Jewish.
What is your best move? How would you describe your style?
Up tempo. Get people involved. Score when need to. Be able to run a team. I like to get out and run, set a screen, make a pass. I appreciate a good game of basketball and people who understand the game.
What is the main difference between basketball in the NBA/US and Israel?
There are superstar players in the US like Lebron, Kobe, Dwight, Howard. You don’t see guys like that overseas. They are incredible. In Israel, the little things are appreciated â€” the pass and the assist are appreciated as much as the actual stats. And it seems to be about winning – guys want to win. Here, the business of basketball can sometimes get in the way.
What was it like playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv during the strike? You were a Euroleague player of the Week in November, 2011! Was your role different on your Israel team?
I played for four months “I played a lot ” maybe 30 games. In Israel, my team would go as far as I could take them. Here I back up Deron Williams, probably the best point guard in the world!
How were you received in Israel?
Everybody embraced me. I was very welcomed, and wanted and appreciated for having made the decision to play. I felt like I was at home it was a whole family atmosphere wherever I went.
How is your Hebrew?
It is not my strong point! I can definitely understand conversations, I can understand what is going on and I can get my get point across, but I don’t speak well.
What is your relationship with Israel?
My stepfather is from Tel Aviv and we have a lot of family in Israel in the Shabazi neighborhood of Tel Aviv. My daughter, my fiance and I spent a lot of time with family during our four months in Israel.
Tell us about the basketball camp for Israeli Jewish and Palestinian children you were involved with:
I got involved through my agent, who is Jewish. It started with the Seeds of Peace. They bring kids from different conflict areas Egypt, Jordan, all over. They all come to a summer camp in Maine. They live together, sleep together, eat together. I spent a day there during my first year. Then I worked with them in Israel in 2008. It is through the Peres Peace Center. They have eight camps all over the country. At the beginning of the program, kids argue. Then, with sport as the medium, they forget about everything they were taught (about the others). They are “just kids” they work together to accomplish a goal. And they high five each other.
Any plans to do it again?
(Smiling). I got pretty busy winning an NBA championship, free agency, having a baby….
It sounds like your Israeli step dad was a pretty important influence on you.
My dad was always around, but my step dad was with me every day. My step dad raised me. We are close. He worked six days a week. He instilled good values in me. He is the only person I know who can wake up without an alarm at the time he planned to wake up. He is disciplined and responsible. Aman! A great father figure. He was in the army in Israel.
Does your step dad get to watch you play?
He is a huge Lakers fan. He loves to watch me play. It was great to be part of that team. When he came to the States, he loved Magic (Johnson), (Nick) Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Kobe, and Shaq.
Were you connected to the LA Jewish and Israeli community?
Growing up in LA was great! I love LA! We were a Jewish household. We had visitors from Israel and family coming in and out. I went to Hebrew school, had a bar mitzvah….
What is your favorite Israeli food?