Amare Stoudemire returned to Miami from Israel but does not know if he will return to play basketball despite applying for citizenship.
Stoudemire and the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team he played for this season won the Israel Premier League championship last week. He told the New York Post in an interview published on Wednesday that “It felt amazing after a long season to lift up the championship trophy. ’’
He told the Post he is weighing his options for next year, including retirement, returning to play for Hapoel Jerusalem, or returning to the NBA and perhaps the New York Knicks.
He said he would enjoy defending Hapoel’s title; however, Israeli media reports that he did not see eye to eye with the Hapoel coach.
Stoudemire was a partial owner of the Hapoel team, which he had to suspend in order to play on it. He signed a two-year contract with the team last year.
“The fans have been amazing — at every game they’re cheering, ecstatic all game and positive,’’ Stoudemire told the Post.
Stoudemire —who isn’t Jewish but identifies with the Hebrew Israelites, African-Americans who believe they are connected to the biblical Israelites — told the Post of his religious observances: “I follow all the laws of Moses, Passover with unleavened bread, Yom Kippur, the culture and law of the land. It was perfect for me. I was able to adapt easily because we all followed the same laws of the Torah.’’
Stoudemire’s wife and children also spent the year with him in Israel.