First Israeli NBA Player Scores Big

By Nathan Burstein

Published November 04, 2009, issue of November 13, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

It’s been a slam dunk transition for the first Israeli in the National Basketball Association.

Omri Casspi
Getty Images
Omri Casspi

First, Omri Casspi, a 21-year-old forward from central Israel, got off to a quick start for California’s Sacramento Kings on October 28 at his NBA debut, scoring 15 points and logging three rebounds during the team’s season opener — a loss — against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then, the 6-foot-9-inch player managed similar results during the King’s first home game November 2, contributing 15 points to help the team secure its first victory. Through his first four NBA appearances, the Yavneh native has averaged 10.8 points and 21 minutes of playing time per game, putting him in a tie for third place among the squad’s highest scorers. Praise from coaches and local media has not been far behind, with the daily newspaper the Sacramento Bee declaring, “It’s Not Taking Long for Casspi To Shine” in an appreciative headline following the Israeli’s first game at his new home arena.

A former player for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Casspi became the first Israeli selected in the opening round of the NBA draft in June, getting picked 23rd by the Kings and signing a three-year contract worth up to $3.26 million. Wearing the number 18 on his jersey, he has been cheered with Israeli flags by some Kings fans and has received support from his brother, Eitan, during his move to California.

Casspi’s initial NBA performances have been reported on extensively in Israel, but have been viewed in real time only by the most diehard of the player’s compatriots. The country’s Sport 5 channel began broadcasting Casspi’s first NBA victory at 5 a.m. local time, with presumably bleary-eyed commentators calling the game live in Hebrew.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.