Israeli champion Maccabi Tel Aviv signs former NBA star Stoudemire

2020-01-23 01:28:22 GMT2020-01-23 09:28:22(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Israeli basketball champions Maccabi Tel Aviv have signed former NBA star Amare Stoudemire, who recently played for China's Fujian Sturgeons, the Israeli club announced Wednesday.

Stoudemire, aged 37, played NBA basketball for 15 years, spending time at the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

His connection to Israel was revealed in 2010, when he began talking about his Jewish connection through his mother.

He began studying the Hebrew language, came closer to the Jewish community, served as assistant coach of a Canadian Jewish team, launched a kosher wine line, adopted a Hebrew name (Jehoshaphat), and acquired shares in the Israeli basketball club Hapoel Jerusalem.

In 2016, he joined Hapoel Jerusalem as a player and helped the team win the Israeli League Championship.

Right after winning, in the summer of 2017, Stoudemire announced retirement from basketball, but after about a year he returned for another season in Jerusalem.

In March 2019, Stoudemire was granted Israeli citizenship on the grounds of "being one of the great players who have contributed to Israeli sports and wants to tie his fate with Israel."

In October 2019, Stoudemire signed with the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) but returned to the United States in December.

Maccabi's Greek head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos said: "We are very pleased that Stoudemire will wear the 'heavy' jersey of Maccabi and help the team in the Israeli league and in the Euroleague".

Stoudemire said, "I am very humble for the opportunity, happy to be in Israel, the place I love. I have a chance to play at the highest level in Europe, which is a dream come true".