JTA — As the only Israeli in the National Basketball Association, Deni Avdija hasn’t shied away from showcasing his Jewish and Israeli pride.
The 21-year-old shared Hanukkah with his Washington Wizards teammates, spoke at the team’s Jewish Heritage Night and tried to boost the NBA’s popularity in Israel.
After several terrorist attacks in Israel last week, Avdija again used her platform to express her support for her home country.
Ahead of Washington’s Wednesday night home game against the Orlando Magic, Avdija wrote “Am Yisrael Chai” (“The Jewish People Lives”) and drew Stars of David on his sneakers. It’s not the first time he’s used his basketball shoes to share a Jewish message – last year he drew attention to Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“My heart is with Israel,” Avdija told reporters, according to Israel Hayom. “I am very sad to hear what is happening in Israel. There are things that are bigger than basketball and with everything I’m trying to represent us in the NBA, it’s hard for me.”
He continued, “My friends and family are in Israel, I watch the news almost every day, I watch Israeli TV. My thoughts are with the families and the people of Israel, hope this ends as soon as possible. I won’t get into politics, but I send a hug and love. It’s hard to watch. »
The 6-foot-9 short forward has appeared in all 76 games for the Wizards this season. He averages 8.1 points per game.
Avdija made history as the highest-drafted Israeli in NBA history when he was selected ninth overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.