In order to understand the importance of Aaron Liberman, you have to grasp how the Jewish community feels about its athletes. See, all it takes is a hint of Judaism for the community to begin buzzing about a given player. The reason is simple: Jews are generally viewed as people better suited to be owners, coaches, GMs or media members reporting on 40-times rather than the ones running them.
Your grandmother may not know what a puck is, but when she hears that Matthew Berman scored a goal for the Kings she wants to know if he’s Jewish. Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun may have been raised Catholic, but the Jews will follow his career like Moses through the desert. They’ll tell you his last name is all they need to know about him to like him. Or better yet, ask Mike Jacobs about the devotion. He was the first athlete in the history of South Florida sports to get the Del Boca Vista crowd to attend Marlins games. They still don’t care that he actually is not Jewish.
The point is that baseball has Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, football has Sid Luckman, and the list of Jews in basketball includes Dolph Schayes, and the dude SI said was the Jewish Jordan. Simply said, we need someone, and Omri Casspi, Jordan Farmar, and whatever Amare Stoudemire is trying to pass himself off as won’t cut it.
We need a new hope.
Enter Aaron Liberman.
Liberman is a senior at Valley Torah high school in Valley Village, Los Angeles. The 6’9″ big man triple-doubled his team into the Southern Section Division VI-AA finals against Bishop Diego scoring 11 points, grabbing 21 rebounds, and putting up 13 blocks. Valley Torah held Rio Hondo Prep scoreless in the final 11 minutes of the game and Liberman made a statement with a baseline dunk late in the third quarter.
The 6’9″ Liberman defies tradition with his exceptional height and length which, along with his timing, has allowed him to become an excellent shot blocker. He’s averaging 18 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.8 blocks for game, all the while pulling down a 3.4 GPA according to the Jewish Journal. He’s received interest from Yale, Dartmouth, Boston College and Pepperdine, though he hasn’t decided on a school to attend (he plans to spend next year in Israel anyway).
His lack of bulk has Liberman believing he’s best suited to play the three at the next level, and his coach says he must “further develop his ball-handling skills so he can ‘snatch rebounds, go coast-to-coast and finish’.” Until his next move, he still has a Division VI-AA championship to win on Saturday against Bishop Diego.
Not only will Liberman have a whole school behind him cheering for victory, he’ll be fighting for a whole community. We need this Aaron, we need this.
To satiate more interest, here’s a video of Liberman balling courtesy of the Jewish Journal: