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NBA’s Enes Kanter Freedom in Israel to Run Jerusalem Basketball Camp With ‘Jewish Jordan’ Tamir Goodman

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom watches the final minutes of the game as his team, the New York Knicks, plays the Washington Wizards at the O2 Arena in London, England, on his television in White Plains, New York, Jan. 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Caitlin Ochs / File.

Turkish NBA player and human rights activist Enes Kanter Freedom landed in Israel on Thursday to lead a basketball camp in Jerusalem for Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Druze girls and boys.

The former Boston Celtics center, who is currently a free agent, posted a video on his Instagram story of his arrival in Tel Aviv, two days after the Enes Kanter Freedom Unity Basketball Camp began at the YMCA in Jerusalem.

The camp for youth ages 10-15 is being run along with the non-profit groups Athletes for Israel, Bnai Zion and Together Vouch for Each Other US, and with help from Tamir Goodman, an American-Israeli former professional basketball player and now coach who was dubbed “The Jewish Jordan” by Sports Illustrated in 1999.

The English-language camp is open to 40 campers, including local residents and tourists, and will run from July 26-August 5. It will feature top coaches from the NBA and NCAA D1 Auburn Men’s basketball team, and will “focus on fundamental basketball skills, strength and conditioning, faith-driven values, and life skills,” according to a press release.

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Arab-Israeli activist Yoseph Haddad, who heads Together Vouch For Each Other US, will also speak to attendees about his experience playing sports as a child with Jewish, Muslim and Druze friends. The camp will additionally be filmed for an upcoming docuseries.

“I believe that we can use sports to promote tolerance, respect, and coexistence,” said Freedom, who has played for five NBA teams since entering the league in 2011 as the third overall draft pick. “By bringing children together on a basketball court, I know we can show them the importance of respecting people of all faiths while building camaraderie and developing relationships.”

He added, “I played in the NBA for 11 years as an observant Muslim, shoulder to shoulder with my Jewish and Christian brothers. We respected each other’s faith and I learned a lot from them and about them and their faith. I am looking forward to setting a positive example for the children of Jerusalem.”

Goodman said, “Basketball has successfully proven itself to unite players of all backgrounds. I’m excited this camp is giving us the opportunity to bring together kids, who otherwise wouldn’t have met, to play and form new friendships!”

Goodman currently runs a summer overnight basketball camp in Jerusalem, and has coached over 5,000 kids in programs across the US with Israeli former NBA player Omri Casspi. Earlier this month, Goodman partnered with The Amar’e Stoudemire Peace Camp, founded by the former six-time NBA All-Star, to host a group of young players from various religions and backgrounds in Jerusalem.

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