Former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire on Monday signed to play for the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team for two years.
Stoudemire, 33, announced his retirement from the NBA on July 26, after a 14-year career. He is a six-time NBA all-star, and had career averages of 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
“I am looking forward to playing for Hapoel Jerusalem and helping the team compete for titles,” he said, according to the Hapoel Jerusalem website. “My family and I are excited to start a new journey in Israel, a country I have grown to love.”
Hapoel Jerusalem won the Israeli championship last year for the first time in its history and will play in the EuroCup this year. The team moved to the newly completed Jerusalem Pais Arena in 2014.
The owner of the team said he was “thrilled” Stoudemire was coming on board.
“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 Ori Allon, president and majority owner of Hapoel Jerusalem, according to the site. “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.”
— Mayor Nir Barkat (@NirBarkat) August 1, 2016
The details of the two-year contract were being kept under wraps.
In July 2013, Stoudemire announced he had become a part owner of Hapoel.
Stoudemire first visited Israel in 2010, and returned in 2013 as an assistant coach of the Canadian Maccabiah basketball squad.
Although he isn’t technically Jewish, he considers himself “culturally Jewish” and has a deep affection for Israel. He has long believed he has Jewish roots — or, as he told JTA in an exclusive interview at the time, Hebrew roots.
“I’m not a religious person, I’m more of a spiritual person, so I follow the rules of the Bible that coordinate with and connect with the Hebrew culture,” Stoudemire said.
“You have to read the book to get an understanding. The Bible is a history book. The ultimate goal is to … start to live the actual Scriptures instead of reading about [them]. It’s the actions that count,” he said.
JTA contributed to this report.