Casspi Set to Play Against 76ers


A rough start to his career hasn't deterred the first Israeli to play in the NBA.

A familiar face to Jewish basketball fans will visit the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night when the Sacramento Kings (21-40) pay a visit to the Philadelphia 76ers (14-49).

In what will be an otherwise meaningless game between two of the National Basketball Association’s bottom feeders, Omri Casspi will give non-Shabbat-keeping Jewish fans something to cheer about.

Since joining the league in 2009 and becoming the first Israeli to play in the NBA, with a great deal of fanfare from Jewish fans of the game, Casspi’s professional career hasn’t gone quite as planned.

After struggling to lock down regular playing time in Sacramento, Casspi was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he spent two mediocre seasons, and then to the Houston Rockets, who waived him last summer after only one season with the team.

But he was re-signed by the Kings this year, and even though his season statistics of 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game are consistent with his underwhelming career averages, his defensive play and shooting percentages have improved. His renewed effort hasn’t gone unnoticed by at least one sports analyzer, who thinks new Kings coach George Karl will look to utilize Casspi’s willingness to play defense and bang the boards.

“I think, certainly, the opportunity for him to be a vital part of the Sacramento Kings is really still right in front of him from the standpoint that I think George Karl, of course, brings stability, leadership, focus and direction,” Bill Herenda, who reports on the Kings for Comcast SportsNet California, was quoted as saying by Bleacher Report, a sports news site. “For Omri, I think the best is ahead of him this season.”

Casspi will get a chance to start proving that on Friday night in front of any Jewish Philly fans who show up.


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