When the Sacramento Kings drafted Omri Casspi from Israel back in June, I was pretty excited. Being a die-hard Kings fan, having an Israeli on my team was just an added bonus. Now, whenever someone tells me they don’t like the Kings, I tell them they are anti-Israel. And I stand by that.
If the Kings had just drafted an Israeli, dayenu, it would have been enough. But Casspi has proven to be a pretty darn good basketball player. Just check his stats. And those stats don’t even mention that he has scored 21+ points in his past four games, including a 24 point/7 rebound/0 turnover contribution last night against the Suns. Needless to say, life is sweet for all Jewish Sacramento Kings fans.
To help adjust to life in California, Omri brought along his older brother, Eitan, to live with him while he tears up the NBA. Now, with the season in full swing, I caught up with Eitan and Omri to find out how they’ve been doing.
Jeremy Moses: How do you think being an Israeli has prepared you for the NBA?
Omri Casspi: You know, it’s who I am. I can’t compare myself with Jews who grew up here or even other Israelis. I only know myself. I play hard and tough for my team to win. That’s all I care about. Winning and helping my teammates win. Just play hard, play strong defense. That’s what we do. That’s what I do.
When you were initially drafted, did you know anything about the Sacramento Jewish community?
Omri: I didn’t know much about the community. I had only come here once to work out before the draft. As I said though, I didn’t know a lot. I knew it was a smaller Jewish community. But I can only say good things. They’ve been warm and worked with me since day one.
Did you know anything about Sacramento as a city?
Eitan Casspi: No. Not at all. But Sacramento has been great. Great city. Great restaurants. Good clubs. Good people.
How much has the Jewish community in Sacramento embraced you?
Eitan: The Jewish community has helped a lot. People call us every day to make sure we’re doing okay. When we first got here, we arranged our house with the Jewish community. We arranged our car with the Jewish community. They really are like family. We’re so happy that the Sacramento Jewish community is here.