Amar'e Stoudemire to play in Israel next season

Former NBA star Amar'e Stoudemire will continue his basketball career in Israel.

The 14-year veteran announced Monday that he has signed a two-year contract with Israeli team Hapoel Jerusalem.

As part of the agreement, Stoudemire will sell his shares in the club to Dr. Ori Allon, president and majority owner of Hapoel Jerusalem.

"I'm sure everyone has been documenting my journey with the homeland the past six, seven years, my interest in Israel. At this moment, that dream has come true," Stoudemire said at a news conference at Madison Square Garden.

Stoudemire, a six-time All-Star, announced his retirement from the NBA last week after signing a contract with the New York Knicks.

Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, said Stoudemire had several NBA offers from non-playoff teams, but he decided after some reflection that it was time to retire from the league.

"It's been a great ride," Stoudemire said Monday. "I played 14 years in this NBA and I was able to have a successful career. I persevered through a lot, stayed focused. My determination was always there."

Stoudemire described Hapoel as "a team that I'm looking forward to playing with, a team that's looking forward to my arrival. ... So I'm excited about the next journey."

He acknowledged that the decision to join Hapoel was an "emotional" one because it meant uprooting his wife and children. Stoudemire and his family have traveled to Israel frequently, which Stoudemire said should make the transition easier. Stoudemire also went on a religious pilgrimage of sorts in the summer of 2010 to explore his "Hebrew roots," which he says exist through his mother Carrie. That factored into Stoudemire's decision to sign with Hapoel.

"Playing with Jerusalem -- it allows me to take care of both -- a spiritual journey and also being able to take care of my professional career," Stoudemire said.

Added Allon, the majority owner: "The whole city of Jerusalem is celebrating right now. It's going to be an amazing two years with Amar'e."

Stoudemire, 33, averaged 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in 846 games in 14 seasons with Phoenix, New York, Dallas and Miami. The 6-foot-10 big man was selected to two All-NBA first teams after turning pro out of high school, rising to prominence first as the NBA's rookie of the year in 2003, then as part of a devastating pick-and-roll combo with Steve Nash. He referenced Nash on Monday, saying the duo "changed basketball" during their Suns years.

Stoudemire's time in New York was impacted by several injuries, including multiple knee ailments. He said Monday that his knees are completely healthy.

"I was healthy all season (in 2015-16)," Stoudemire said. "My body felt great."