Basketball: Ex-NBA star Stoudemire won't play for Jerusalem next season, reverts to minority owner

Hapoel Jerusalem forward Amar'e Stoudemire posing with the trophy after winning the Israeli premier league.
Hapoel Jerusalem forward Amar'e Stoudemire posing with the trophy after winning the Israeli premier league. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/@AMAREISREAL

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Former National Basketball Association star Amar'e Stoudemire, who became the most famous name to join Israel's basketball league when he signed with Hapoel Jerusalem last year, will not play for the team next season, the team said on Sunday.

The 34-year-old will return to his status as a minority owner of the team, Jerusalem spokesman David Bassan told AFP. He had sold his stake ahead of last season to be eligible to play.

Jerusalem won Israel's premier league last season, with Stoudemire averaging 9.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

He addressed his decision in an Instagram post.

"It has been a great ride for myself and my family. We enjoyed the city, its people, the holy places and of course Hapoel fans," he said.

"Although I would have liked to return for another season, the team, coach and I could not find a role that I felt would allow me to meaningfully contribute in the way I have always been accustomed to play."

"I feel it is my time now to return to the shareholder's position and help make this team even better."

Thank you @_winner_league @thejerusalem_post @sport_5 @jerusalembasket "When I decided last summer to retire from the NBA and join Hapoel Jerusalem, my intentions were to help this team, from this holy city win my first championship with the team and the second championship in franchise history. I am extremely proud that not only did we meet that goal, but that this achievement, capped arguably the best season this team has ever had. Reaching all three local finals, of which we won two, along with a eurocup semifinals appearance, personally winning the All Star Game MVP Award 🏆 and coming to within one game of the finals, made it a truly remarkable season. I am extremely proud that not only did we meet that goal, but that this achievement, capped arguably the best season this team has ever had. It has been a great ride for myself and my family. We enjoyed the city, it's people, the holy places 🕎 and of course Hapoel fans🗣. Although I would have liked to return for another season, the team, coach and I could not find a role that I felt would allow me to meaningfully contribute in the way I have always been accustomed to play I feel it is my time now, to return to the shareholder's position and help make this team even better. I would like to thank Hapoel Jerusalem president. Ori Allon, and the entire Hapoel Jerusalem organization for giving me the opportunity to retire as a champion 🏆and doing it in the holiest of cities made even more special. I wish my teammates, friends and fans another great season. Yalla Hapoel!!" #kingdombusiness #shabbtshalom
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Thank you @_winner_league @thejerusalem_post @sport_5 @jerusalembasket "When I decided last summer to retire from the NBA and join Hapoel Jerusalem, my intentions were to help this team, from this holy city win my first championship with the team and the second championship in franchise history. I am extremely proud that not only did we meet that goal, but that this achievement, capped arguably the best season this team has ever had. Reaching all three local finals, of which we won two, along with a eurocup semifinals appearance, personally winning the All Star Game MVP Award 🏆 and coming to within one game of the finals, made it a truly remarkable season. I am extremely proud that not only did we meet that goal, but that this achievement, capped arguably the best season this team has ever had. It has been a great ride for myself and my family. We enjoyed the city, it's people, the holy places 🕎 and of course Hapoel fans🗣. Although I would have liked to return for another season, the team, coach and I could not find a role that I felt would allow me to meaningfully contribute in the way I have always been accustomed to play I feel it is my time now, to return to the shareholder's position and help make this team even better. I would like to thank Hapoel Jerusalem president. Ori Allon, and the entire Hapoel Jerusalem organization for giving me the opportunity to retire as a champion 🏆and doing it in the holiest of cities made even more special. I wish my teammates, friends and fans another great season. Yalla Hapoel!!" #kingdombusiness #shabbtshalom

A post shared by (əˈ•mär•ray) Amar'e Stoudemire (@amareisreal) on

Stoudemire came to Jerusalem after an NBA career that began with great promise but which was cut short by injuries, particularly to his knees.

He described his decision as a spiritual quest, with the former New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns star identifying as a Hebrew Israelite, African-Americans who believe they descended from the ancient tribes of Israel.

Stoudemire repeatedly expressed his excitement at being in Jerusalem, though he faced criticism earlier this year and apologised following a backlash over his comments he would avoid a gay team-mate.