After spending his final NBA season with the Miami Heat, Amar’e Stoudemire retired as a member of the New York Knicks and moved away.
The 34-year-old former All-Star now makes his home in Israel.
Playing for Hapoel Jerusalem — a team he owned a piece of before signing a two-year deal to play — Stoudemire told Sports Illustrated he moved his family and Miami-based personal chef to Israel and has “never felt more at home, more tied to a place where I’m playing.”
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Last year, Stoudemire had a solid season for the Heat by averaging 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds a night as he appeared in 52 games and made 36 starts.
Following the season, Stoudemire was ceremoniously welcomed back to the Knicks where he spent five seasons as he announced his retirement — from the NBA, not basketball.
According to the New York Post, Stoudemire had often talked about the possibility of playing in the Israeli league when his days in the NBA were done.
In 2013, Stoudemire was part of a group which purchased a 60 percent share in the team.
Stoudemire sold those shares back when he signed in the offseason.
“This is a very, very emotional decision for me because at this moment, I have to uproot my family who have been stable in the U.S. to move to a different country,’’ Stoudemire said a press conference at Madison Square Garden after retiring last summer,.
“It’s also a spiritual journey as well. The next phase of my career – people have documented my journey with the Holy Land the last six years, the interest in playing in Israel. That dream has come true.”
In a Miami Herald story written when Stoudemire joined the Heat, he described himself as a “cultural Jew” as he “has fasted on Yom Kippur, observed Passover and got married under a chuppah Jewish wedding canopy wearing a yarmulke skull cap.
“He made a pilgrimage to Israel in 2010 and sprinkles Hebrew phrases such as “Shalom,” “L’Chaim” (To Life) and “Boker Tov” (Good Morning) in his Twitter feed.”
In the Sports Illustrated piece, Stoudemire said he won’t eat shellfish and has a menorah tattoo on his left wrist.
Stoudemire told SI he enjoys walking around the old city he now calls home as he and his family — who purchased a four-story home not far from from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's place — travel throughout Israel and Europe when they have spare time.
“People say ‘Is it a war zone?’ and I tell them that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Stoudemire told SI.
“Beautiful country. Beaches. Desert. Great restaurants. Great people.” He stands and opens a side door to make a point. “On the Sabbath it’s so quiet. Everything shuts down for rest, for family time. How nice is that?”