By Jon Wertheim - January 12, 2017

Originally appeared here in Sports Illustrated 

Much as Middle East politics cleave public opinion, maybe everyone can agree on this: For a spit of land roughly the size—and population—of New Jersey, Israel plays a wildly outsized role in the theater of geopolitics. Last month the U.S. abstained from a United Nations resolution condemning Israel for the construction of settlements in disputed territory. This bit of inaction triggered multiple international news cycles, an explanatory speech by Secretary of State John Kerry, a blistering rebuttal from the U.K. and, inevitably, a pointed tweet from the President-elect. 

Amid all this meshuggaas, the most famous power forward in all the land remained camped out on the perimeter, as it were. Amar’e Stoudemire lives a few blocks from the prime minister’s residence and a 25-minute walk from Jerusalem’s Old City—where so many raw nerves are exposed—but, as he says in his impossibly deep voice, “the politics aren’t for me.”

Otherwise, though, Stoudemire is thoroughly engrossed in what he calls his “adopted homeland,” maybe the most unlikely celebrity resident in Israel’s 69-year history. To some fanfare and more bemusement, Stoudemire announced last summer that he would be leaving the NBA, his workplace since 2002, to close out his gilded career in Israel, where he’d long felt a spiritual connection. Read More