In the basketball world, a formerly athletic power forward who peaked in the mid-to-late 2000’s recently signed with a team abroad. I know what you’re thinking, but no, it’s not newest Guangdong Southern Tiger/ref-hater Carlos Boozer, who trying to play his way back into the NBA. Nope, it’s Tablet’s favorite maybe-Jew and retired NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire, who has signed a two-year deal with Hapoel Jerusalem, a team that he co-owns with several Israeli tech entrepreneurs and super-agent Arn Tellem. The move was first reported by basketball reporter David Pick.
Congratulations to my longtime client @Amareisreal on your new journey! pic.twitter.com/5GSC0IMm3P
— Happy Walters (@Happywalters) August 1, 2016
The Jerusalem Post reported that Stoudemire will be in Israel next week “as part of the joint initiative between the Omri Casspi Foundation and [the National Basketball Players Association], the league’s global community outreach initiative, aimed at presenting Israel in a positive light across the world. Jerusalem is hoping to make the most of the opportunity and officially unveil Stoudemire while he’s in the country.”
Stoudemire is far and away the best former NBA player (sorry, Pooh Jeter) to join an Israeli team, and his club, Hapoel Jerusalem, is one of the best in Ligat HaAl (Israeli Basketball Premier League). Two seasons ago, they won the franchise’s first championship, and last season, they were defeated in the finals by Maccabi Rishon LeZion. Presumably, an owner/player won’t have to fight for playing time, but it’ll be interesting to see how Stoudemire, who played in just 52 games for the Miami Heat this past season, is integrated into the roster.
In a post on Monday on The Players’ Tribune, the Derek Jeter-founded publication that enables athletes to have bylines, Stoudemire wrote:
I may be retiring from the NBA, but I’m not saying goodbye to basketball just yet. My next step is playing for Hapoel Jerusalem, one of the top teams in Europe. This isn’t about collecting a paycheck overseas, though; it’s a spiritual journey, too.
The Scripture speaks about Jerusalem as a holy place, and I can feel that whenever I’m in the city. This is a chance for me to be a better husband and a better father, to help me lead my family into righteousness. The opportunity to play there, and grow as a player and person, is a blessing.
As my father used to tell me, “The sky’s the limit.”
Time to soar.
As is tradition, take this time to remember just how good Amar’e was.
Jesse Bernstein is a former Intern at Tablet.