Phoenix Suns will retire Amar’e Stoudemire’s number, making him 2nd Jewish ex-NBAer to net honor


(JTA) — Amar’e Stoudemire hasn’t donned a Phoenix Suns jersey since 2010, but soon, no Suns player will wear his No. 32 ever again.

The Suns announced Wednesday that Stoudemire, along with his teammate Shawn Marion, would be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor during the 2023-2024 NBA season. According to the team’s press release, this represents “the franchise’s highest honor bestowed to individuals who have made an enduring impact on the organization, community and Suns fans.”

Stoudemire, who formally converted to Judaism in 2020, played the first eight seasons of his 14-year NBA career in Phoenix, racking up a Rookie of the Year award in 2002-2003 and five All-Star appearances. Stoudemire ranks seventh in Suns history in points (11,035), fifth in scoring average (21.4), third in rebounds (4,613) and fifth in blocks (722).

“I bleed purple and orange, making this a tremendous honor to be inducted,” Stoudemire said in the announcement. “My best and most transformative years came in Phoenix with the Suns. I have so much love for Suns fans and appreciation for the love they have always shown me.”

Stoudemire is the second Jewish retired ballplayer to have his number retired, an honor that has gone to about 220 players across the league over time. The first was Dolph Schayes, who retired in 1964 and saw his No. 4 retired by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016, months after his death.

Phoenix owner Mat Ishbia, the Jewish billionaire who purchased the Suns along with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury late last year, called Stoudemire “one of the most electrifying players the league has ever seen.”

As part of the induction, Stoudemire and Marion will each be honored during their own night in the upcoming season. And their jersey numbers — 32 for Stoudemire and 31 for Marion — will be retired. To date, 10 Suns players have had their numbers retired, including Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Steve Nash.

Stoudemire has been vocal about his affiliation with Black Hebrew Israelites, a movement whose core belief is that African Americans are the genealogical descendants of the ancient Israelites. He played professionally in Israel for several years, winning the Israeli Basketball Premier League championship twice. He has also coached at the Maccabiah Games and owns a line of kosher wine. He left his assistant coaching job with the Brooklyn Nets last year, saying the role interfered with his Shabbat observance.

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