Friday, 28 June 2013

Amar’e Stoudemire has joined the prospective ownership group of an Israeli basketball team

The summer of 2010 was one of the most significant periods for NBA over the past decade, a point at which star free agents like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade decided their futures and shaped the course of the league for years to come. One of those players, Amar'e Stoudemire, went on more adventures that summer than simply signing a massive contract with the New York Knicks. As part of a period of self-discovery and reflection, Stoudemire traveled to Israel to learn about the culture and investigate what he described as "Hebrew roots." Amar'e didn't convert to Judaism, or anything, but he did build a meaningful connection to the Holy Land.

Three years later, Amar'e has new plans to develop that bond. As reported by The New York Times in April, Stoudemire will help coach the Canadian basketball team at the Maccabiah Games in Israel this August. It also appears that he will try to develop a more lasting connection to Israeli basketball. On Thursday, Amar'e tweeted that he has joined an ownership group seeking to purchase the Israeli team Hapoel Jerusalem (via The Jerusalem Post):

Excited to join the partnership that is giving back to the city of Jerusalem by offering the Hapoel basketball team a fresh start.

— Amar'e Stoudemire (@Amareisreal) June 28, 2013

Ori Allon, the New York-based tech entrepreneur leading the group, also tweeted about Stoudemire's involvement:

Proud to partner with @Amareisreal & others on building a promising future for the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball club — Ori Allon (@OriAllon) June 28, 2013

While Hapoel finished fifth in their division this season, they're not a perennial doormat, having participated in the EuroCup this season. They also currently employ a few familiar names: former NBA foward Samardo Samuels, Alabama point guard Ronald Steele, and Stanford All-Pac-10 guard (and writer) Dan Grunfeld. It's unclear exactly how large a stake Stoudemire will have in the team, but he's not buying into some small club. This is a prominent team in Israeli basketball.

On a broader level, it's simply nice to see that Stoudemire's 2010 involvement in Israel did not become a diversion in his life story. Clearly, he meant what he said about finding his roots in Israel. This is part of his identity now, and he's willing to formalize the connection in all kinds of ways.

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