Former NBA baller Amar'e Stoudemire, who recently signed a deal to play for Israeli basketball team Hapoel Jerusalem, held a press conference in Jerusalem. "Jerusalem," Stoudemire said "is my favorite city in the world."
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Stoudemire, who retired from the NBA in July, signed a two-year deal with the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team last week.
Stoudemire is visiting Israel as part of a charity project - NBA Cares - organized by Omri Casspi of the Sacramento Kings, the first Israeli to play in the NBA.
Stoudemire has been a minority owner of Hapoel Jerusalem since 2013. As part of his contract with Hapoel Jerusalem, Stoudemire will sell his shares in the club to Dr. Ori Allon, president and majority owner of the team.
In 2010, after joining the New York Knicks, Stoudemire told the New York Post that he had become “spiritually and culturally Jewish.” The All-Star said he was keeping kosher and would celebrate the High Holy Days. He traveled to Israel that year after discovering that his mother appeared to have Jewish ancestry.
Stoudemire, 33, is a six-time NBA All-Star who played in the league for 14 years, retiring last week as a Knick. His first eight seasons were with the Phoenix Suns. Stoudemire closed out his career playing a season each in Dallas and Miami.
Currently led by coach Simone Pianigiani, Hapoel Jerusalem is one of the oldest and most successful teams in the Israeli Basketball League, according to its website. The club has won numerous Israeli State and League Cups, as well as one Israeli Championship and one EuroCup title.
When asked about the possibility of obtaining an Israeli citizenship, Stoudemire said "We'll see. It's not that important at the moment."