Featured Jewish Basketball Player of the Week
Previous Featured Jewish Basketball Players of the Week
Sue Bird was drafted #1 Overall by the Seattle Storm in 2002, has won 4 WNBA Championships (2004, 2010, 2018, 2020) and played her final WNBA game this past September. Over the span of her career, the 5-foot 9-inch guard averaged 11.3 points/game, 5.5 rebounds/game and 39.1% 3-point shooting percentage. Bird is a Syosset, NY native and went to the University of Connecticut for college, where she won 2 NCAA Championships (2000, 2002). Her father is an Ashkenazi Jew of Russian Jewish ancestry, and she holds both Israeli and American citizenship.
This past October, Ryan Turell was selected No. 27 overall by the Detroit Pistons minor league affiliate Motor City Cruise in the 2022 NBA G League Draft, becoming the first Orthodox Jewish player in NBA history. The 6-foot 7-inch guard and Los Angeles, CA native played for the Division-3 Yeshiva University Maccabees and graduated with a degree in marketing from the Yeshiva University. Turell averaged 27.1 points/game last year for Yeshiva, leading the NCAA in scoring throughout all three divisions.
Nancy Lieberman-Cline played 4 years of collegiate basketball at Old Dominion University, where she averaged 18.1 points/game, 9 rebounds/game and led her team to 2 consecutive Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) championships (1978-1979, 1979-1980). In the 1980s, the Queens, NY native was the #1 draft pick for two short-lived professional women’s basketball leagues, the Women’s Basketball League (WBL) and the Women’s American Basketball Association (WABA), during a time when few professional basketball opportunities were offered for women. Lieberman played for the Dallas Diamonds in both leagues. She was the first woman to try out for an NBA team and the first woman to play for in a men’s professional league in 1986 with the Springfield Flame in the United States Basketball League (USBL). Lieberman was also the first woman to participate in the Globetrotters world tour, when she played for the Washington Generals in 1988. At the age of 40, she joined the Phoenix Mercury in the newly formed WNBA for the 1997 season. Lastly, she was the first woman to coach as professional men’s team when she was with the Texas Legends of the NBA’s G-League (professional minor league) from 2009 to 2011. Nancy Lieberman was born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, NY and raised by her mother after her parents’ divorce.
Amar’e Stoudemire played 14 seasons in the NBA from 2002 to 2016, averaging 18.9 point/game and 7.8 rebounds/game. The 6-foot 10-inch forward-center and Lake Wales, FL native played most of his career for the Phoenix Suns, but also played for the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. Stoudemire landed in Israel from 2016 to 2019 where he played for Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv. He completed his orthodox conversation to Judaism in 2020 with the Hebrew name: Yahoshafat Ben Avraham.
Alysha Clark was drafted #17 Overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars but has played most of her career with the Seattle Storm. The 5-foot 11-inch forward was recently acquired by the Washington Mystics and has averaged 7.0 point/game and 3.5 rebounds/game over the length of her career. In 2011, while splaying overseas in Israel for Hapoel Rishon LeZion, Clark learned that she was Jewish according to Jewish law, because of her maternal Jewish grandparents. She eventually obtained Israeli citizenship to continue playing in Israel, where she played for 3 different teams between 2010 and 2016.
Deni Avdija was selected by the Washington Wizards as the 9th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft at the age of 19, becoming Israel’s highest-ever draft pick. In his first two years in the league, Serbian Israeli Avdija has averaged 8.1 points/game, 5.5 rebounds/game and 2.7 assists/game. The 6-foot 9-inch forward and Herzliya native previously played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Basketball Premier League and is the third Israeli to play in the NBA, after Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel. Avdija was born in Beit Zera, a small kibbutz in northern Israel, in 2001 to his Muslim father, Zufer Avdija, and his Jewish mother, Sharon Artzi. His father played professional basketball in present-day Kosovo and in Israel and his mother was both a basketball player and track-and-field athlete.