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January 23, 2020 5:06 pm

Ex-NBA Star Amar’e Stoudemire Signs With Maccabi Tel Aviv, Accused of ‘Betrayal’ by Hapoel Jerusalem Fans

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Amar’e Stoudemire during his time with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Amar’e Stoudemire has signed to play with the Israeli basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv, the arch-rival of his former team that he still is a part owner of, Hapoel Jerusalem.

“I am very humbled for the opportunity, happy to be in Israel, the place that I love,” said the 37-year-old veteran forward-center in a statement posted on Maccabi’s website on Wednesday. “I have a chance to play in the highest level in Europe, which is a dream come true.”

The ex-NBA all-star played for Hapoel Jerusalem in 2016 and 2017, then returned for the 2018-19 season, during which he was granted Israeli citizenship. He then went to play for the Fujian Sturgeons in the Chinese Basketball Association from this past October through December, before now signing with Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The Israeli basketball team is in first place in the Israel Premier League after winning the title the last two seasons.

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Fans of Hapoel Jerusalem have called Stoudemire a “traitor” for signing with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and a source in Hapoel was quoted by Ynet saying, “This is absurd. There was always talk about this but we didn’t believe it would happen.”

One social media user called the move “the betrayal of the century,” while one Twitter user wrote, “The owner of Hapoel Jerusalem signs with Maccabi and says it is a dream come true. I’m sorry but there is no club as lame as Hapoel.”

According to Maccabi, Stoudemire will replace two injured players, including former NBA player Omri Casspi.

The team said on its website that the athlete “comes to Maccabi due to the injuries of Tarik Black and Omri Casspi and will join Othello Hunter, Jake Cohen and Quincy Acy in the front court.”

Stoudemire has signed by Maccabi Tel Aviv through the end of the season and will make around $55,000 per month, according to The Times of Israel.

Stoudemire, who is the son of  “Hebraic” parents, said in 2018 that studying Torah was part of his daily routine and previously noted on Instagram that he wanted  to raise a “Torah/Bible observant family.”

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