August 2, 2016

American basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire has announced a new deal to play with Israeli basketball club just days after announcing his retirement as a player in the National Basketball Association.

Stoudemire, who bought an ownership stake in Hapoel Jerusalem in 2013, signed a two-year contract with the red team. That contract includes a call for Stoudemire to sell his shares.

“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,” writes Stoudemire in a personal blog to The Players Tribune.

Local news reports say the 33-year-old forward is the best ex-NBA player to sign with an Israeli team.

“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.” — Amar’e Stoudemire

The six-time NBA All-Star has visited Israel numerous times and writes that playing here is a “dream come true” and part of his “spiritual journey.”

The former Miami Heat and New York Knicks player has a Star of David tattoo and can speak a bit of Hebrew.

Hapoel Jerusalem won the 2014-15 Israeli Basketball League title.

“My interests in playing in Israel, at this moment that dream has come true,” Stoudemire, a 14-year NBA veteran, told AP. “I’m now able to play for Hapoel Jerusalem. A team that I’m looking forward to playing with.”

In his blog piece, Stoudemire writes: “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.”

Stoudemire is expected to move his family – wife, Alexis, and four children – to Jerusalem at the end of the month, in time for training camp and the beginning of the new school year.

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