Newly Discovered Jewish NBA Star Travels to Israel
New York Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire has embraced his Jewish roots.
Surprise! The National Basketball Association has a third Jewish player. Joining New Jersey Nets’ point guard Jordan Farmar and Sacramento Kings’ forward Omri Casspi is none other than Amar’e Stoudemire.
Actually, the newly acquired New York Knicks power forward has now been in the league for eight years, playing for the Phoenix Suns however, it was just recently that he found out he has a Jewish mother.
The 27-year-old from Lake Wales, Florida has welcomed the surprise, and has embarked on a trip to Israel to learn more about his Jewish heritage. “I’m going to Israel to study Hebrew. It’s time to get a better understanding on who we are,” wrote Stoudemire via Twitter. He also replied to a fan who wished him a good trip, by saying that he has family who live in the country.
“On the flight to Israel. This is going to be a great trip,” Stoudemire tweeted Tuesday evening.“The holy land. Learn about it,” he continued. “Ze ha’halom sheli (this is my dream).” Stoudemire reportedly plans to spend up to two months in Israel, learning both the language of the country and more about his past.
Upon arriving in Israel on Wednesday, Stoudemire travelled to Jerusalem, and again updated his Twitter fans. “Jerusalem is a beautiful city. I’m at a cafe eating a late lunch. I’m learning Hebrew by the min. Keep up! Shalom.”
Last season, while playing alongside Canadian superstar Steve Nash, Stoudemire averaged 23.1 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. He also played the full 82 game season for the Suns for the first time since 2006-07. Stoudemire has consistently battled injuries throughout his NBA career, missing 29 games in the 2008-09 season and 79 games in 2005-06.
In 516 career games, the 6-foot-10 forward has averaged 21.4 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. In 2003, Stoudemire was named NBA Rookie of the Year. He is a five time All-Star, having made the Western Conference team for the past four straight years. He was first named to the All-Star game in 2005, just his third year in the NBA.
Stoudemire’s Jewish roots and interest in the land of Israel have led to speculation among Israeli basketball fans of whether or not he might one day play for the Israeli national basketball team. If he was to join the team, he would have the opportunity to play alongside 22-year-old Omri Casspi, who became the first Israeli to ever step foot in the NBA this past season.