Why is this night different from all other nights? Wait, sorry, let me try again.
Tonight, to celebrate the first night of Chanukah, Knick demi-legend and greatest living Jewish basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire will return to the Garden to light the MSG Menorah. This sounds like a euphemism but is not:
Knicks are hosting Hanukkah night on Tuesday vs. LAL. Amar’e Stoudemire will light the ceremonial menorah during the 1st quarter in his first time back at MSG since retiring from the NBA.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) December 10, 2017
Welcome back, STAT! For those of you who haven’t kept up, Amar’e has just retired from basketball after leading Hapoel Jerusalem (the team he co-owns) to an Israeli League Championship:
His hair may be a little wilder, but he’s still the same art-loving STAT we remember:
...with the same fashion sense. OAKAAK! (Literally - STAT signed a one-day contract last year so he could retire a Knick.)
But STAT is not the only Knick to embrace Judaism and ball in Israel. Chris Smith*, of the JR Smiths, has recently converted and signed with Israeli League team Ironi Nahariya. Chris has been documenting the process in the traditional Smith brother manner:
Ironi finished 8th in a 12-team league, so he’ll have some work to do. Go get ‘em, Chris!
May all your hummus dreams come true!
While there is only one active Jewish player in the NBA (Omri Casspi), and that player is not a Knick (you better be having a Hanukkah celebration, Warriors), the Knickerbockers do have a glorious history of Hebrew hoopers.
IN FACT, the very first points ever scored in the NBA were scored by Jewish Knick Ossie Schectmann:
Check out that sweet follow-through!
How will YOU be celebrating this first night of Knicksmukkah? May I suggest your very own Knicks menorah?
(Available here, along with a nifty Knicks mezuzah.)
Happy Hanukkah everyone, may your oil last as long as you need it and may the Lakers fall before us. Go the Knicks!
*Yes, yes, it was silly to give him a contract, but please spare me the Chris Smith hate in the comments, thanks! Tikkun olam.