Amare Stoudemire exploring his roots in Jerusalem


Thumbnail image for stoudemire.pngWhen you sign a $100 million contract to be the centerpiece of the New York Knicks, even your summer vacations become news.

Amare Stoudemire is in — and is tweeting from — Jerusalem, where he is studying religion. And because we all love speculation, there were reports out there that Stoudemire was going to convert to Judaism and even play basketball for the Israeli national team.

Nope. Not the case. You can take the word of his agent Happy Walters who spoke to FanHouse (and also happens to be Jewish).

“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.”

Or, you can check out the tweets of Amare himself.

2 clear everything up: I’m studying history & want 2 learn about all religions. I think I might have some Hebrew Roots & i’m researching it.

Being open minded toward other cultures is beautiful. Studying your heritage is very important.”What’s a Tree w/o Roots” Le’chayim, 1love

Just a couple of thoughts. I don’t think for a second this is a calculated marketing ploy — Stoudemire is a smart man who would take a trip like this to learn — but traveling to Israel and studying Judaism doesn’t hurt him in the New York marketplace.

And no, even if he does convert and moves to Israel, he cannot play for the national team. Like in almost every international sport, once you play for the national team for one country, you are wed to that country for life. Stoudemire has played numerous times for USA basketball, including the 2004 Olympics. He can only play for the United States.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.