The fact that he's spending the offseason in Israel so he can learn Hebrew and explore his heritage could wind up making him one of the more popular Knicks in history.
You can follow along with Stoudemire's voyage via Twitter. Rest assured, you'll have plenty of company as this story has spread like wildfire since Haaretz reported Wednesday that Stoudemire has Jewish roots. The Jerusalem Posthas an article with the headline "NBA superstar Stoudemire is Jewish" and it is being discussedall aroundthe web. Given the size and vibrancy of New York City's Jewish population, this has potential to become a huge story once Amar'e is back on our shores and meeting members of the community.
The purported connection comes from his mother's side, which is crucial as Jewish lineage passes through the mother. Cue the "He doesn't look Jewish" comments, although from Ethiopia to Spain to Michelle Obama's cousin we've learned that such comments really don't hold much water. It seems to good to be true that you'd sign a contract with the Knicks and find out you're Jewish in short order, but there's no reason to doubt Amar'e because of the timing.
Now, before you start coming up with pitches to have Stoudemire join your synagogue, there are a few caveats.
Stoudemire's agent told TMZ that, contrary to other reports, Stoudemire isn't actually sure that he has any Jewish blood. There's also the little matter of the "Black Jesus" tattoo on his neck. And in the Jerusalem Post story he interchanges use of Hebrew and Jewish, which anyone who has spent much time in Midtown or watching public access will recognize as the kind of rhetoric usually reserved for ornately dressed African-American gentlemen preaching about being the real Jews.
So he might not actually be Jewish. It won't really matter, though. All of this publicity is sure to make his efforts and interest in Israel and Jewish life well-known to New Yorkers and that will be appreciated even if Stoudemire doesn't wear a yarmulke during games next season.