American basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire will be able to brush up on his Hebrew when he returns to Israel in July to help coach the Canadian men’s basketball team at the 2013 Maccabiah Games.
The New York Knicks forward, who previously visited the Holy Land in July 2010 to explore his “Hebrew roots” and study the language, will serve as an assistant to Canadian head coach John Dore. He accepted the role last spring after meeting with Dore, a close friend of Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald, and was present at the team’s tryouts in August, according to Canadian delegation head Alex Brainis.
“As someone who has competed and continues to compete at the very highest level, Amar’e will command the respect of all the players and serve to maximize their talent,” said Brainis, who was a member of the last Canadian basketball team to win the gold medal at the Maccabiah in 1997.
While Stoudemire is an American citizen, Brainis said there are “no restrictions as to the nationality of the coaches.” The players, on the other hand, must hold Canadian passports. Stoudemire, who is currently rehabbing from knee surgery, will join the team at their final training camp before departing for Israel, Brainis said.
In 2010, Stoudemire toured Jerusalem, Eilat and Tel Aviv wearing a kippa. He told Sport 5 that he did not grow up in a Jewish home but is “very spiritual” and that the trip “helped me a lot to find the original culture.”
The Maccabiah is the world’s largest Jewish sports competition and will take place July 18-30.