Amar’e Stoudemire will play the next seasons overseas with Hapoel Jerusalem after signing a deal with the Israeli team. After retiring from the NBA last week with a ceremonial contract from the New York Knicks, Stoudemire didn’t announce the end to his basketball career with rumours flying around that he was assessing his options in Israel and Turkey.
Stat has had links with the country of Israel in that he bought a minority stake in Hapoel Jerusalem and has spoken many times of his admiration of the Jewish faith.
“I may be retiring from the NBA, but I’m not saying goodbye to basketball just yet,” he wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “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.”
33 years of age is regarded as too early to retire from basketball, which makes the move to Europe make a lot of sense if Amar’e feels he cannot compete at the highest level anymore, but still wishes to continue in another league.
Hapoel owner Ori Allon stressed the importance of the arrival of Stoudemire to Israel.
“We are thrilled to have a player of Amar’e’s caliber join our team, solidifying our place among the top echelon of Israeli and European basketball,” said Allon, “More importantly, bringing Amar’e to Jerusalem raises the profile of the entire Israeli Basketball League, and we hope that his joining our team will lead to increased interest in our league from basketball fans around the world as well as talented international players.”