The last time there was this much interest in the national anthem being played on guitar, the guitarist was Jimi Hendrix. The venue was Woodstock, the iconic 1969 “Hippy” concert.

This time, the venue was Friday night’s baseball game at Plainsman Park. The guitarist was Auburn basketball player Lior Berman.

When you say a basketball player is a triple threat, you mean scoring, rebounding and defense. Berman was a triple threat in a different way – basketball, guitar playing and guitar making. He is a craftsman as well as a sportsman.

It was only natural for the Auburn athletic department to showcase Berman opening an Auburn home baseball game with the national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.

Berman’s basketball career at Auburn is over. It ended in the March 2 win over Mississippi State, when he suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Berman was a fifth-year senior, using an extra year of eligibility due to COVID.

He spent his Auburn career as a walk-on before earning a scholarship in his fifth year. If Auburn had not lost a scholarship due to an NCAA penalty, he would have gotten that scholarship long before.

Berman was in the unique position of being a Jewish student playing for a Jewish coach, Bruce Pearl. He plans to play professional basketball in the Israeli League.

See also: With Bruce Pearl and Lior Berman, Auburn basketball heads into March Madness with rare Jewish coach-player combo - St. Louis Jewish Light (

Berman won three state championships at Mountain Brook High School, playing “Bucky Ball” under Coach Bucky McMillan. After a stellar coaching career at Mountain Brook, McMillan entered the college ranks, where he had already taken Birmingham’s Samford University to the NCAA tournament.

After Berman’s season-ending injury, Pearl said, “Our heart truly breaks for Lior. He has made a huge impact in this program resulting in historical success over the last five years. At a time when he had worked his way into a major role on this year’s team, the Lord had a different plan. I promise you, Lior’s faith and conviction will allow him to pursue his dream of playing professionally next year in Israel. Our team may have won a game yesterday, but we suffered a huge loss.”

Here is Auburn Basketball’s mini-documentary on Berman and his guitar talents:

The Auburn baseball team lost Friday’s game to Ole Miss 11-7. In the ninth inning, Auburn loaded the bases with two outs and brought the potential tying run to the plate but were struck out.

Auburn followers on Twitter commented that Berman’s national anthem was the highlight of the game.

Berman has family and connections in Israel. His coach, Pearl, has been outspoken in support of Israel and has sought to improve U.S. support of Israel. Having his former player Berman in Israel and part of the Israeli League may open opportunities for service beyond basketball and guitars.

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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