Amar'e Stoudemire Not So Jewish, Agent Happy Walters Clarifies
FanHouse's Jon Weinbach spoke to Happy Walters, Amare's (Jewish) agent, and got a lot more information on exactly what the hell is going on with Amar'e newfound religious identity, and his big, bad summer vacation.
"He's not Jewish, it's all getting blown a little bit out of proportion," said Walters. "His mother says there's some Jewish blood on her side, but Amar'e is just a total student of history and had been planning a trip to Israel for awhile. Is it possible [that he's Jewish]? Maybe. We're going to do some research, but I don't know where that will go."
OK, so I retract my argument that, on the eve of starting a career in New York, no athlete would announce he was Jewish without a good reason for saying so. Then again, to repeat myself further, his interest doesn't exactly hurt his New York appeal. Long term, that is.
Right now, I think there are more than a few fans feeling a little disappointed, even betrayed. For a day, we had a Jewish All-Star, and now he's gone.
But hang on: Amar'e isn't pulling this out of thin air, or trying to disrespect the Jewish people. Although it does come down to whether or not you believe Carrie Stoudemire, which is akin to a leap of faith.
Walters explained Stoudemire's mother Carrie has "mentioned that somewhere back in her lineage there might be some Jewish roots," but that Amar'e was definitely not raised Jewish and his first name is not -- as has been speculated -- derived from any Hebrew words. "I think his name is Swahili, it's has nothing to do with Judaism," said Walters.
"I think he's excited about learning more about his roots, but he it's not like he had a Bar Mitzvah," said Walters. "If he finds out that his mother's great grandmother was Jewish, then hey it's possible. I haven't checked to see if he's circumcised, but regardless, it's a stretch to call him Jewish at this point."
Walters went on to explain that Amar'e is planning to visit numerous Jewish and Christian holy sites in Israel, including Jesus' birthplace in Bethlehem, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and the hill-top remains at Masada near the Dead Sea, where a group of Jews battled Ancient Romans-- and ultimately committed mass suicide -- more than 2,000 years ago.
Whether or not we ever again mention Amar'e in same breath as Danny Schayes and Tamir Goodman, and however weird this whole thing is starting to seem, I think it's still good for Stoudemire's image. How many NBA players spend their summers in the Middle East visiting historical sites?
If he keeps insisting he's Jewish once the season starts, it might get awkward. Happy also needs to get Amar'e on message, so that he doesn't get mistaken (or, if it's the case, publicly identified with) those problematic Black Hebrews. But hey, New York, you're getting an athlete genuinely interested in Judaism and Jewish history, who is also way more serious than advertised. That's got to count for something, right?
Or would you prefer some bum who spends the offseason clowning around with scantily clad women and yelling out lyrics to the rap music? Congrats, New York, you got the real mensch of this free-agent class.
Jon Weinbach did all the heavy lifting for this story.