Whether the New York Knicks hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the 2012-2013 NBA season or they’re ousted in the first round of the playoffs, come summer time Amar’e Stoudemire will be busy in the gym.
Not because he's dedicating himself to a new training regimen or working on his interior defence though; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Come mid-July, Stoudemire will be patrolling the sidelines in Israel as an assistant coach of Team Canada at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, better known as the Jewish Olympics.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard Stoudemire’s name and Israel mentioned in the same sentence.
In the summer of 2010, shortly after signing a five-year $100 million deal with the New York Knicks, several news outlets reported that Stoudemire took a trip to the country to explore what he believed were his ‘Jewish roots. Some critics believed he was only doing so as some kind of 'publicity stunt' to help the Knicks sell tickets seeing that there's a large Jewish community in New York, but Stoudemire denied those allegations.
He returned to the city sporting a Star of David tattoo, began referring to himself as a ‘practicing Jew’ and proved he was taking time to learn the language by posting Hebrew words on his Twitter account. In December 2011 he made an appearance on an episode of Sesame Street to show off his Hebrew vocabulary.
Impressive Amar’e! Now, back to basketball.
According to a story by Hillel Kuttler in the New York Times the idea of trying to get Stoudemire involved with Maccabi Canada came up when the head of the organization, Alex Brannis touched base with John Dore, the team’s coach, who happens to be close with the executive vice president and general manager of the Knicks, Glen Grunwald.
Then on a visit to the Knicks practice facility during the 2012 playoffs, the job offer was extended to Stoudemire in person.
“It was a bit of a dream scenario to reach out to Amar’e because of his discovering his Jewish roots and his playing basketball,” Brainis, the head of Maccabi Canada’s delegation said. “We figured that if he said yes, this would be a big recruiting tool.”
When offered the post, “Amar’e was nothing but enthusiastic.”
As for what the six-time NBA All-Star will bring to the team?
“What he’ll bring to the team is individual skill development,” Dore said. “He’ll also be learning about himself, as to whether he wants to pursue a coaching career. This is his first go-round in coaching. It’ll be a great experience for him.”
So if Stoudemire goes on to some sort of illustrious coaching career once he's done playing, he can say his first experience working on the sidelines was with Team Canada at the 2013 Maccabiah Games.
To what extent does he actually practice Judaism? Well, that's kind of besides the point.