A Peace Deal Brokered: Talkin’ Basketball with Bethlehem Shoals

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Two of my last posts have featured my views on Jews, specifically Jordan Farmar, and their relationship with professional basketball. It was sparked by a post on the basketball blog freedarko.com. My response triggered a second post on their site, that currently has 86 (!) comments on its thread.

Luckily for us, the author of those posts, Bethlehem Shoals, sat down and answered a couple of questions for us about basketball, his Judaism and his love for awkward shooting players with big noses.fredarkobook.jpgJM: A lot of our readers may not know what FreeDarko is all about. Can you tell us what it is and what made you guys start your site?

BS: We like to describe FreeDarko as a basketball think tank, which is a fancy way of saying that we write about basketball in more pretentious, academic, creative, and deliberately bizarre ways than mainstream journalists. It stems from our shared outlook on sports, which involves being as interested in the style and psychology of individual athletes as whether their teams win or lose; this also spills over into issues of identity and politics.

We started it because, embarrassingly, we were already writing mini-essays on our fantasy basketball league’s message board, and decided we might as well take it public.

JM: Your pseudo name is Bethlehem Shoals. Is there anything Jewish to that?

BS: Actually, quite the opposite. An African-American friend of mine who also grew up in the South challenged me to come up with the best old church-going lady name I could think of. Bethlehem Shoals jumped out of my mouth, and she called me that for the next few months.

When it came time to start a blog, I went with the only silly name I’d ever had. Though there’s a chance that some Jews were involved in Bethlehem Records or Muscle Shoals Studios, the sources for the name. Well, probably not Muscle Shoals. Strangely, people figure that “Bethlehem” is an allusion to the Holy Land, which is stupid, since that’s the least Jewish town in all of Israel.

JM: We got in contact with each other because I took issue with how you view Jordan Farmar’s Judaism in his game. Do you want to elaborate on why you don’t think his Judaism is as important to his game as I think it is?