To Amar’e Stoudemire,
It’s hard to decide on which topic these words should apply first, but thank you. Lets start with congratulations for leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to this year’s league championship. Your presence, production, and clearly your leadership and experience drove this talented team, and overcame some stiff competition down to the final minute. What an incredibly great distraction from the ills that dominate us the world over this week. The pure joy and satisfaction on the faces of you and your teammates standing with those trophies was so genuine, and spread to so many of us spectators from afar… Such a welcome moment in these times. Thank you.
Seeing you, still with your familiar style, slashing to the basket tomahawk-style, has been a top thrill of mine since you entered the NBA straight out of high school, drafted by my Phoenix Suns in 2002. I’m from Phoenix. I grew up there when the Suns were the only game in town in the ‘80s, under some of the league’s all time greats in Connie Hawkins, Walter Davis, and on to Tom Chambers, Kevin Johnson, and Charles Barkley, among others. But the era brought in by you and Steve changed the whole league, and the very style of play to this day. Your years pushing the 7-second offense and perfecting the pick-and-roll with Nash could very well be the best in franchise history. It’s some semblance of vindication for me that you’ve won the championships here that you got robbed of in the NBA in 2007. So yeah, thank you for that too.
As a guy from Phoenix who moved to Israel myself as a new immigrant, your transition to, and eventual full embrace of Israel has been surreal and exciting for me, and for so many others here. In an era where so much is misunderstood about Israel, you pushed past that, and truly inquired. You not only got to know this country, but embraced us in this era of bad image and complex prolonged conflict. It even appears that you really found a part of yourself in this Holy Land. I can certainly identify with that. Thank you for your commitment and open heart.
But it goes beyond the personal. You’re an icon. I recall, with some pain, when you went to the Knicks. I was in NY that summer outside the Garden and recall the massive banners of you, arms outstretched over the intimidating streets of Manhattan. Bigger than life. You’ve earned a status that few do in this world. Thus your years of embrace for the State of Israel, and the Jewish people at large, is of extraordinary value to this tiny but outsized group, of only about 13 million worldwide. In recent weeks, when NFL star DeSean Jackson and others propagated anti-semetic rhetoric, you offered to mediate. It is scary for the Jews to see prominent African American figures talking this way. Seeing the danger, you stood up to serve as a bridge between two communities that you rightly saw as having no reason to be at odds. Thank you for going above and beyond on that.
You’re a legend, man. And well before winning this latest league championship and Finals MVP, you’ve been our legend. Proud to count you among the Tribe. Thank you for standing up to be counted when it really matters. And again, congratulations on this week’s win. Come back.
Your faithful fan,