By Andy Kostka
Tamir Goodman, once dubbed the "Jewish Jordan" while regularly churning out 35-point games for Talmudical Academy of Baltimore from 1996-1999, went on to reach the highest level of professional basketball in Israel. Now, he's making his mark on the sport as an entrepreneur.
Goodman, 35, is the inventor of a training device for players called the Zone190. The inspiration for his invention came out of the realization that his playing days were coming to an end and his desire to help in the development of younger players.
He recalls standing on the baseline eight years ago, sizing up a 3-pointer, all alone. After playing briefly for Towson University (he had orally committed to Maryland but later changed his mind), as well as five teams in Israel and the Maryland Nighthawks of the Premier Basketball League, Goodman was no longer with a team, but he wasn't ready to leave the hardwood.
"I had that dark moment in the gym, thinking I might never be able to play professionally again, and kind of coming up with the realization that that might really be true," said Goodman, who suffered two knee injuries in his career.
Without coaches or teammates at the gym to feed him passes, his training lacked an authentic game feel. Use of a traditional bounce-back device was one dimensional, offering passes straight back to the source.
"My coach won't get me the rebounds," Goodman said, "and if I use one of these devices that already exists, it's not really game-like, because if I'm standing in the corner … the ball wouldn't come to me from the angle of the net, I'd be coming off a down-screen usually and the ball would be coming from the wing."
Working in the gym, he thought to himself, "Well, I'm never going to be able to play again, how can I help the next generation of players?"
Goodman first imagined a more sophisticated bounce-back device, one capable of replicating the passes a player would experience during a game.
After Goodman's comeback bid failed to materialize, the concept he imagined helped him transition from player to entrepreneur, while keeping him involved in the game he loves. The energy he once displayed on the court was channeled toward the creation of his semi-circular bounce-back device.
Goodman's invention brings versatility to training. Its main component is a low-profile trampoline-like surface that sweeps in a 190-degree arc. It even has appendages that simulate a defender
A single Zone190 bounce-back machine can help with drills for ball-handling, shooting, post play, passing and conditioning. Goodman's goal with the invention is to eliminate weaknesses in a player's game by having enough drills to improve each skill set.
Goodman recalled how scouting reports describe a player's weakness turning to one side or handling a specific type of pass. Opposing coaches will try to exploit those weaknesses, but with Zone190, "they won't have any weaknesses."
"Zone190 helps you be unscoutable," Goodman said. "They can back cut, curl cut, fade cut, pick and roll -- any situation you could ever find yourself in on the court, whatever position you play, you can practice all the game-like scenarios that you'd see on the court and that way be confident in every one of those."
The device handles the work of multiple coaches feeding passes to a player, and the speed with which the ball is returned on the bounce forces a player to give maximum effort, even without coaches overseeing training. Goodman wishes he could have trained with it during his development in Baltimore.
Goodman, who ended a playing career marred by injuries in 2009, uses the Zone190 to stay involved with the sport he grew up playing. In Jerusalem, he runs an international basketball camp, and he is a consultant for Hapoel Jerusalem of the Israeli Basketball Premier League. Last year, the team signed former NBA player Amar'e Stoudemire.
"It's very hard for players … to all of a sudden retire," Goodman said. "I'm very thankful that I've had Zone190, because it's almost like I've been able to continue my career, and even on a higher level because I've been able to reach players I otherwise wouldn't have been able to reach if it weren't for Zone190."
The Zone190 has broken through into the training regimens of elite high schools, such as DeMatha, plus college programs and NBA teams.
In a testimonial video by Goodman, DeMatha head coach Mike Jones said, "I really believe this is something we're going to utilize on a daily basis, and I really think it's going to be a great benefit to our guys."
The international reach Goodman has achieved through his training aid helps him impact the game even further than what was possible with him on the court.
"Here I am, able to reach a lot more players and help them reach their potential on the court," Goodman said. "So, I was glad I was able to experience playing on the court, but I think it's an even greater feeling to share and help other people to reach their potential, and Zone190 allows players to do that."
Issue 236: August 2017