Avdija looks forward to reunion with Stoudemire in Wizards-Nets originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Sunday’s preseason game between the Wizards and Nets will be billed as Russell Westbrook and Scott Brooks facing off against Kevin Durant, as the three key ingredients of those great Thunder teams of yesteryear reunite once again. But Wizards rookie Deni Avdija will also see a familiar face on the opposing bench.
Avdija played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the EuroLeague and one of his teammates was Amar’e Stoudemire, who is now an assistant on Brooklyn’s staff led by new head coach Steve Nash. Stoudemire took Avdija under his wing, knowing he had the talent to play in the NBA, where he was once a star for the Phoenix Suns.
“Amar’e was a big part of me, a big part of my game,” Avdija said. “The amount of experience and knowledge he gave me is off the roof.”
Stoudemire signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv in the middle of the 2019-20 season and only appeared in six games. Also on their team were other former NBA players like Omri Casspi, Tarik Black and Nate Wolters.
Avdija explained how committed Stoudemire was to mentoring him despite the fact he was clinging on to his final days as a player.
“He was a professional. He always came first to the gym,” Avdija said. “We were always talking about things. I was always asking about the NBA and he always answered me, no matter what the time or no matter how tired he was or angry he was, he always sat with me and answered my questions.”
Avdija said he and Stoudemire became close friends along the way. Stoudemire happens to be twice his age; 38 years old compared to 19.
“It will be a little bit weird, but Amar’e is Amar’e and I will always love to see him,” Avdija said.