Longtime Baltimore sportscaster Keith Mills was on
Glenn Clark Radio
when a message from Tamir Goodman popped up in Clark's Twitter feed.
Nicknamed the "Jewish Jordan" by
Sports Illustrated, Goodman is one of the many former high school stars Mills has covered during the course of his career. He averaged 35.4 points as a junior with Talmudical Academy of Baltimore and went on to play for Towson before playing professional basketball in Israel.
Now that Mills is entering "semi-retirement" from 98 Rock and WBAL, Goodman wanted to wish him well as he enters the next phase of his life. It's a small encapsulation of what Mills has meant to the sports community in Baltimore.
Mills has established himself as a staple of Baltimore sports throughout a career that spans decades. From Goodman's ascension to national notoriety to covering former NBA star Muggsy Bogues at Dunbar High School, Mills has been around for some of the most iconic moments and prolific athletes in the city's history.
"That's the most important thing ... to go out and really get to the core of local sports in America, which is high school sports," Mills said. "You meet some really cool people who are covering and playing in high school sports. And we don't get a chance in this day and age to tell stories because it's all tweets and Facebook. But you can still do it here."
Mills recalled how Goodman became a star at age 17. His air of confidence and devotion to his Orthodox Jewish faith brought national attention to Baltimore and Talmudical Academy while drawing comparisons to "Pistol Pete" Maravich for his skills on the basketball court.
Goodman's rise to fame was No. 8 on Mills' top 15 sports moments.
"In addition to being a good player, he was a tremendous young man," Mills said. "He left an indelible print on me and a lot of people."
Mills' list is an anthology of the most memorable sports moments in Baltimore like the Orioles' final game at Memorial Stadium and the Ravens' Super Bowl run in 2000. It also includes great players like Goodman and Diane Geppi-Aikens, both of whom had iconic high school careers. Geppi-Atkins starred in volleyball, basketball and lacrosse at Parkville High before graduating in 1980.
But in terms of an athlete who captivated him the most, Bogues stands alone in Mills' mind.
Bogues, who was famous for his 5-foot-3 height and a 15-year career in the NBA, led Dunbar to a 29-0 record in his junior year (1981-82) and 31-0 in his senior year (1982-83). The Poets were also ranked the best high school basketball team in the nation by USA Today during Bogues' senior year.
"Muggsy ran the show, man," Mills said. "I was just fascinated with how he could go play major college basketball, play 15 years in the NBA and have the same impact with Larry Johnson and Stacey Altman and guys in the NBA that he had in high school."
Mills was reminded of Bogues' reputation when he attended a benefit basketball game in the late 1990s. The locker room was filled with prominent players like Johnson, Scottie Pippen and Patrick Ewing. As Mills walked in with Bogues, everyone in the room stopped to pay attention to the Baltimore native.
"It was like Moses parting the Red Sea and things just stopped," Mills said. "And I'm thinking, here's this guy who can't dunk, not a great shooter, but man, he was an unbelievable leader."
Mills won't be gone completely from Baltimore sports. He'll still be around on a part-time basis for some Ravens and Navy football coverage. But the love he has for Baltimore will always be around full time.
"This is home," Mills said. "I know a lot of people who left and came back miserable because the proverbial grass isn't always greener. I did not want to be one of them. My father worked here for 40 years with Jerry Turner and Al Sanders and Vince Bagley worked for 50 years at WBAL. And if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me."
For more from Mills, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of WBAL TV-11