Fewer Tweets have been more exciting than the one emitted late Friday afternoon by Amar’e Stoudemire. The context is a National Basketball Association lockout and the noise made by some players, most notably New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams, that in the meantime they will simply play overseas (Williams wants to play in basketball-mad Turkey, also host of the once-great Allen Iverson). Tweeted Stoudemire, the New York Knicks star and aspirational Jew: “Should I go to Israel an play for Maccabi Tel Aviv during the lockout?” Reading this on my phone, I said aloud, “Oh yes you should!”
Because, really, how great would it be? Maccabi, already the Yankees of the Israeli Basketball League, would be getting the country’s most fervent fan in the NBA. Plus, it would not jeopardize the club’s plans to play former Duke star Jon Scheyer. Stoudemire, who for all his claims is not Jewish, would have to be one of the few foreign players allowed to each club; Scheyer, a Jew, could easily claim his automatic citizenship under the Law of Return and then be counted as one of Maccabi’s native sons.
Alas, the thrill was short-lived. The NBA players’ priority is getting a good deal out of the current labor strife, and that requires as unified a front as possible, and Stoudemire is, on and off the court, a team player. “Europe teams are calling, I think I’m going 2 stay here in the states,” was Stoudemire’s tune on Twitter Saturday. “My loyalty is with the State of New York an the NYK’s. Who’s with me?” Sigh, I guess we still are.