AUGUST 1, 8:50am: Stoudemire has officially signed a two-year deal with Hapoel Jerusalem, according to Pick (Twitter link). “I’m looking forward to help the team compete for titles,” Stoudemire said.
JULY 31, 10:01am: Amar’e Stoudemire, who announced his retirement on Tuesday, has signed to play in Israel next season, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Stoudemire officially ended his NBA career at age 33 by signing a ceremonial contract with the Knicks, but he isn’t ready to give up the game completely.
Stoudemire will play for Hapoel Jerusalem, a team he partially owns along with several other investors. Pick notes that he will become the most famous former NBA star ever to play in Israel.
Stoudemire spent 14 years in the NBA, playing for the Suns, Knicks, Mavericks and Heat. He appeared in 52 games for Miami last season, starting 36, and averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in nearly 15 minutes per night.
Stoudemire’s links to Israel are based in his embrace of Judaism. When he joined the Heat in 2015, he told Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel that he considers himself “culturally Jewish” and was planning to obtain Israeli citizenship.
“When I traveled to Israel for the first time, the world took hold of that and [the media] made it a big deal, and … it just kind of blew up from there,” he said. “But I was always this way, even when I was in Phoenix or even in high school here in Florida. But it just happened to become more visible when I traveled to Israel.”