From NBA All-Star to American Israeli: Amar’e Stoudemire Talks about His Journey

By Tadi Abedje

On the latest episode of Listen In With KNN on Fox Sports 1340AM, host Kelsey Nicole Nelson welcomed Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv star forward and six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire to the show. 

Recently, he had a game for Maccabi Tel Aviv in which he had 15 points and four rebounds as they won 103-65 over Hapoel Unet Holon B.C. in the Israeli Basketball Premier League. It was the team’s second game after their three month hiatus because of COVID-19.

“In Israel, the minister of health provided this strategy for us to stay in quarantine for a month. Once that happened, then we were able to start back training and playing. But it was tough for us because we had to train at home and figure out ways to stay in shape,” Stoudemire said.

Amar’e is a Hebrew Israelite and grew up learning the Torah and the bible. It was that experience that led him to Israel.

“When I came to Israel, I learned more about Judaism and the culture. I gained citizenship in Israel. Being an American Israeli is important for me,” he said.

In addition to his spirituality, the Florida native transferred to five high schools before settling to Cypress Creek High School in Orlando. In 2002, he became the 20th player in history to jump from high school to the NBA. Stoudemire played for the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. His best years of his career with the Suns where he averaged 21 points per game and became a five-time All-Star.

“Playing in Phoenix with (Steve) Nash, Shawn Marion and those guys was a lot of fun for me,” said the ex All-Star. 

He was lucky to play against one of the greatest players of all time in Kobe Bryant, who passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.

“Kobe as a player was a generational guy. From a guy who came out of high school. I’m sure he learned a lot from his father who was a pro player. The way he carried himself, approached the game of basketball was beyond his age,” Stoudemire said. “He understood what it takes to win and wasn’t intimidated to ask other greats about the tools it took.”

He retired from the NBA in 2016 but continued his career overseas playing for Hapoel Jerusalem, the Fujian SBS Xunxing Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and Maccabi Tel Aviv. One of the things he learned was exploring the world.

“I enjoy the beautiful coaches around the world especially in Europe and in the Middle East. The Chinese culture was fun for me. Also in Europe going to Athens (Greece), Spain, Russia and these countries that I probably would’ve never experienced or wanted to go to,” Stoudemire said.

When his basketball career ends, he plans to go to a business school in Miami and hopes to become a sports agent. However, there’s one thing that he wants people to remember about his career.

“I would like people to say Amar’e Stoudemire is a Hall of Famer. That would be the icing on the cake.”