Amar’e Stoudemire made his fame with Steve Nash on the Phoenix Suns. The center played 14 seasons in the NBA with the Suns, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat without making it to a single NBA Finals before traveling across the world to play for Hapoel Jerusalem, a professional basketball team in Israel he owns part of.
Now, after winning the Israeli Premier League championship, Stoudemire is on top of the world (well, the Jewish world, at least), and the aging veteran has some options once again. Should he retire on top, defend the title, or come back to the NBA?
“It felt amazing after a long season to lift up the championship trophy,” said Stoudemire. “We had a great run. To play and win a championship my first year there, I could just call it quits and leave as a champion. That could be an option. Another option is maybe to play with a team that needs quality veteran leadership here in the NBA. That could be an option. Or I could go back and defend the title for a back-to-back. I have time to think about it. Those are my three options.”
While there isn’t a large demand for centers in the NBA right now, and big men are being traded for next to nothing (just ask DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard), Stoudemire has a great relationship with the New York Knicks till and owner James Dolan.
He hasn’t spoken with Dolan yet, but Amar’e feels he has a roster spot with the team he played for from 2010-2015.
“Sure, I haven’t spoken to them yet about it, but that definitely could be an option,” said Stoudemire on a possible return to New York. “I have nothing but positive affirmations about the team and organization. That will be something I can think about. I’ve followed New York, always pulling for the Knicks to have success. I’ve been hearing the stories [about Carmelo Anthony]. I’m always rooting for the Knicks and Carmelo as well to have success. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case this year. I do have positive energy toward the team, and soon they’ll start succeeding.”
Of course, there’s also, as he mentioned, the opportunity to defend a championship on a team that he partially owns. While Stoudemire had to suspend his ownership in order to play, he could certainly help make Jerusalem one of the most popular, valuable teams in the Israeli league. Stoudemire is doing well in the league despite the minutes restrictions, winning MVP in the All-Star Game in Tel Aviv this year.
Outside of basketball, Stoudemire hasn’t had any problems living amongst a different culture. As a Hebrew Israelite, he was ready for the change of scenery in the Holy Land. As a 6’10 black man in the United States, Stoudemire will be the first to tell you that no one has ever assumed him to be Jewish.
“Folks find me curious because in the U.S. they don’t expect black people to be Jewish—they’re not really sure how it’s even possible,” said Stoudemire. “
Stoudemire moved his wife and four children, and even his Jamaican personal chef, to Israel to play for Jerusalem. The family already follows the Jewish lifestyle, so they probably felt more at home in Israel.
“I follow all the laws of Moses, Passover with unleavened bread, Yom Kippur, the culture and law of the land,” said Stoudemire. “It was perfect for me. I was able to adapt easily because we all followed the same laws of the Torah.”
At this point, the Knicks couldn’t do anything that would surprise me. So maybe Stoudemire can snag another $100 million deal from them.