New Jersey Nets guard Jordan Farmar
is looking forward to a "great life experience" playing for Israeli champion Maccabi Tel Aviv during the NBA lockout.
Farmar was greeted at the airport on Thursday by dozens of fans singing and banging drums in celebration. Speaking to reporters later, Farmar said he was excited to play "for an organization that is committed to winning."
Maccabi Tel Aviv was the runner-up in the Euroleague last season.
Farmar is one of the highest profile players to ever play for Maccabi.
Aside from Israel's
own Omri Casspi
– who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers – Farmar is the only other Jewish player in the NBA.
He won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers before moving to the Nets in 2010. The 1.88 meter (6-foot-2) guard will play for Tel Aviv as long as the NBA lockout continues.
"I'm committed to this team, to the coaching staff and the organization for the time I am here and I want to do my part to help the team grow," Farmar said in a press conference at Maccabi's Nokia Arena. "Leaving at the end is not something I'm looking forward to ... but there is a business aspect to it. Part of my contract says when the NBA restarts I have to go back."
Farmar said he has been interested in Maccabi since he visited Israel as a youngster and saw the team play.
Farmar's parents divorced when he was a child. His mother is Jewish, and his stepfather is Israeli. His father, former baseball player Damon Farmar, is black.
After playing for UCLA, Farmar became the first Jewish player in the NBA since Danny Schayes – son of Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes – retired in 1999.
"Jordan is one of the best and most exciting and I believe most special guards who have come to Israel for a long time. We're thrilled to have him," said Maccabi head coach David Blatt. "The great part of the story is Jordan wanted to come and we wanted him. It was really a decision of the heart rather than a professional matter."
Farmar said he believed he would adjust well to the European game and fit in just fine with a deep Maccabi squad.
"I'm here to be a positive influence," he said. "I'm a leader by nature, whether I'm on the floor or not. I'm not here to show anybody up. I'm just trying to be a member of the team, a positive influence and whatever they ask of me I'll do."