Story written by Vincent Crawford sports editor
In late July, Amar’e Stoudemire, 33, retired from the NBA after a 14-year career that began in Phoenix (8 years), followed by stints, respectively, in New York (4.5), Dallas (0.5), and Miami (1). Stoudemire was drafted ninth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2002 NBA Draft.
Stoudemire’s livelihood was hindered by chronic knee problems requiring microfracture surgery on both knees with the first procedure taking place on Oct. 18, 2005.
Those same injuries ended his career in Phoenix as the Suns and Stoudemire could not agree to a new contract for the 2010-11 season causing the player to opt out of his contract, on June 30, 2010.
Phoenix, believing Stoudemire was not the same athlete before the injuries, did not offer a contract near Stoude-mire’s asking price, so Stoudemire became an unrestricted free agent signing with the Knicks on July 5, 2010. His five-year contract was worth $99.7 million.
Prior to making his NBA retirement an-nouncement, Stoudemire signed a one-day contract with New York because he wanted to retire as a Knickerbocker.
“I want to thank Mr. (James) Dolan, Phil (Jackson) and Steve (Mills) for signing me so that I can officially retire as a New York Knick,” Stoudemire said. “I came to New York in 2010 to help revitalize this franchise and we did just that.
“Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple. Once a Knick, always a Knick.”
Since walking away from the Association, Stoudemire’s basketball career has not concluded as he, on Aug. 1, signed a two-year deal with Hapoel Jerusalem, of the Israeli Basketball Premier League, in time to help Hapoel win the IBPL Cup, on Oct. 1.
“I may be retiring from the NBA, but I’m not saying goodbye to basketball just yet,” said Stoudemire, on August 1 and the financial terms were not disclosed. “My next step is playing for Hapoel Jerusalem, one of the top teams in Europe. This isn’t about collecting a paycheck overseas, though; it’s a spiritual journey, too.
“The Scripture speaks about Jerusalem as a holy place and I can feel that whenever I’m in the city. This is a chance for me to be a better husband and a better father, to help me lead my family into righteousness. The opportunity to play there, and grow as a player and person, is a blessing.”
Stoudemire is married to the former Alexis Welch, who was an All-Arizona Informant Basketball Player at Phoenix Desert Vista, and they have four kids.
Due to a contractual agreement, Stoudemire sold back his Hapoel ownership shares, which he bought in 2013, to Dr. Ori Allon who is the president and major owner of the team.
“We are thrilled to have a player of Amar’e’s caliber join our team, solidifying our place among the top echelon of Israeli and European basketball,” Allon said in a statement. “More importantly, bringing Amar’e to Jerusalem raises the profile of the entire IBPL.”
For longtime Suns’ fans, Amar’e’s first name was always spelled Amaré until he changed it in Oct. 2008. Stoudemire stated that the media had been misspelling his first name since he joined the Association.