NBA's Amar'e Stoudemire in Israel for Maccabiah Games with Canadian Basketball Team
Six-time NBA All-Star and NY Knicks player Amar'e Stoudemire is currently in Israel, where he is the assistant coach for the Canadian basketball team playing in the Maccabiah Games.
The Maccabiah Games, also known as the 'Jewish Olympics', is the world's largest Jewish athletic competition, which takes place every four years in Israel. The first Games took places in 1932, in the midst of the Nazi's regime's rise in Europe.
These are the largest Games ever, with over 9,000 athletes, from 78 countries around the world.
The Canadian delegation is also its largest on record, with over 500 athletes and an additional 120 coaches and support staff.
The Games officially kicked off last night, with a spectacular opening ceremony in Jerusalem, in front of Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Canadian-Israeli musician, and winner of The Voice -- Israel, Kathleen Reiter, also headlined the entertainment.
As for Stoudemire, he is certainly no stranger to the Holy Land, having visited the country a number of times now, since finding out he has Jewish roots from his mother three years ago.
Stoudemire has not shied away from his Judaism and late last year even got married to his long-time fiancé Alexis Welch in a full Jewish ceremony.
Never one to miss an opportunity, during a private meeting with Shimon Peres before the Games opening, the President of Israel even cheekily invited Stoudemire to play for the country's national basketball team because of his ties to Judaism.
While in town, Stoudemire also conducted a coaching workshop in Tel Aviv for some of the most promising Israeli youth players and recently even became part owner in local basketball team Hapoel Jerusalem, cementing his already close ties to Israel, even further.
Asked what draws him to the Holy Land, Stoudemire said "it's a great honor to be here. Israel is a beautiful country," adding that visits like these allow him to "be a role model for children in Israel."