By David Kaufman

On a balmy Middle Eastern morning this past week, ace basketball forward Amar’e Stoudemire was busy doing what he does best. Towering over his fellow players, he maneuvered his lithe physique across the court while counting out slam dunks.

Only he was in Jerusalem’s Goldberg Gym. And counting in heavily accented Hebrew.

“Ahat, shtayim, shalosh, arba” (“One, two, three, four”), the athlete chanted as he shot hoops and mastered layups outs with Ryan Pannone, assistant coach of local pro team Hapoel Jerusalem, one of 12 teams in Israel’s Premier League. Clad in baggy red shorts and a white tank top — with a tattoo of God’s name inked in Hebrew along a colossal forearm — 33-year-old Amar’e seemed right at home, more than 6,600 miles away from his home country.

Less than three months after retiring from the NBA, Amar’e is back on the court. Only this time, rather than playing for fame or fortune, the New York Knicks’ one-time $100 million man is playing for God.

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