Deni Avdija
Deni AvdijaReuters

Israeli NBA player Deni Avdija, who plays for the Washington Wizards, on Wednesday evening paid tribute to Israel as he took the court for the Wizards’ preseason game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Gardens.

Yoav Modai of Israel’s Sport5 reported that Avdija wrote the name of Lt. Itai Cohen, an IDF soldier who was killed in the war against Hamas, and also wrote the words “Stand with Israel”.

Cohen, commander of the Yahalom special forces, was killed during a battle with terrorists in Alumim in southern Israel.

After his death, Cohen’s parents discovered a booklet in which Cohen outlined his plans for his military and civilian life until the age of 24, and noted he planned to watch Avdija’s NBA games. Avdija, upon hearing the story, decided to honor the fallen soldier.

Avdija also showed solidarity with Israel during Washington’s game against the Orlando Magic last March, when he wrote the words "Am Yisrael Chai" in Hebrew and also painted a Star of David on his shoes.

Avdija, the 2020 Israeli League MVP, was selected 9th overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2020 NBA draft, making him the first Israeli to be drafted in the top ten in NBA history.