It's not all sad news from Amar'e Stoudemire's camp, even after Yahoo! Sports' Kelly Dwyer recently reported that the big man will be taking it easy this offseason and declining to work with Hakeem Olajuwon in favor of some much-needed rest.
According to Dan Amira and Jennifer Vineyard of the Daily Intelligencer, the New York Knicks star is taking the next step in exploring his Hebrew roots, applying for Israeli citizenship and even receiving an invitation from President Shimon Peres to play for the national team.
The following passage from a 2010 Associated Press article on ESPN seems particularly relevant now:
Stoudemire spent his first eight NBA seasons with the Phoenix Suns, where he won the 2003 Rookie of the Year award and became one of the league's dominant players. Now, his possible Jewish ties have stirred interest in Israel, with bloggers dreaming he could one day join the Israeli national team.
Stoudemire, however, laughed that off.
"I'm looking forward to playing in the 2012 Olympics," he said. "For the USA."
Is it possible that Stoudemire's thoughts have changed now?
He's been practicing Judaism and learning Hebrew, spending time in Israel, becoming a part owner of Hapoel Jerusalem and giving plenty of indications that his stance may be different. At the very least, he'd have to deny rumors about the 2016 Olympics without laughing, because those questions would be quite a bit more serious.
The power forward has absolutely zero chance of representing the USA in 2016.
There are too many young talents ready to play internationally, and Stoudemire already appears to be declining. Knicks fans hope that's just a mirage created by injury, but there are certainly signs that the power forward will never be the same player he once was.
All the while, Omri Casspi remains the first and only Israeli player to have played in the NBA. Gal Mekel will soon bring the number to two.
Could Amar'e make it a trio?