Warriors' Omri Casspi: "Basketball is a bridge to connect people"

Warriors' Omri Casspi: "Basketball is a bridge to connect people"

DunkWire

Warriors' Omri Casspi: "Basketball is a bridge to connect people"

One of the underrated moves of this offseason was the Golden State Warriors’ signing of NBA veteran Omri Casspi, who will strengthen the defending champs’ bench and give the star-studded squad yet another shooter.

Casspi will join Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the Bay Area on a team that’s heavily favored to repeat at champions. The first thing he mentioned in an exclusive interview with HoopsHype is that he’s eager to learn and do whatever he can to help the Warriors win.

Of course, winning has not been a problem for Golden State in recent years. Over the last three seasons, they are 207-39 and have made the NBA Finals each year (winning two titles in that span).

But adding the 29-year-old forward this offseason was not a minor transaction. He will have a significant impact; just two years ago, he and Curry had a shootout and Casspi drained seven threes against his new team.

Casspi couldn’t be happier to be in Golden State, playing under head coach Steve Kerr.

“When you have the opportunity to play under a great coach, with a great system, a great organization and you’re competing at the highest level, it’s a dream come true,” Casspi said.

Casspi spent much of this summer overseas, playing for the Israel national team and taking part in Basketball Without Borders.

Casspi said he was able to catch the Eurobasket semifinals game between Slovenia and Spain. Earlier this offseason, Casspi played against Luka Doncic and the Slovenian national team during a scrimmage game and acknowledged they looked really good. However, he was still surprised to see them upset Spain, which is the team he predicted would win the tournament.

“The game in Europe is a lot more physical; you get hit and bumped,” Casspi said. “You don’t get hit and bumped like that in the NBA. It takes a toll on your body.”

While they didn’t qualify for the tournament, Casspi said he had a great experience abroad and was glad to compete with his national team. But it’s nothing new for him considering he has now represented Israel for more than 15 years, which is more than half of his life.

Although he has played in the United States since 2009, Israel is still a major part of his identity. He has taken former teammates such as DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay and friends from rivals teams like Chandler Parsons and Iman Shumpert to his home country.

This summer, he helped host the 16th edition of Basketball Without Borders. It was the first time the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) held the basketball development program in Israel. Casspi participated in the camp twice before he was a professional player.

He said he had talked to Basketball Without Borders executives about bringing the program to Israel since he entered the league. This trip, he was joined by league commissioner Adam Silver as well as Basketball Hall of Fame big man David Robinson.

“He’s such a good guy and all he did for the game of basketball is amazing,” Casspi said of Robinson. “Working closely with him and discussing how we see the game and the development of young players was amazing. I learned a lot from him.”

Jerryd Bayless, Sam Dekker and Norman Powell were among the current players who joined Casspi this summer. Campers who attended Basketball Without Borders came from 22 different countries to be a part of BWB.

Many became friends and cheered for one another and he said it was uplifting to see kids from the Jewish community, Israeli community, Druze community and Muslim community all working together on the basketball court.

“They shared the experience of talking about life and showing that we can be united as one,” said Casspi. “This young generation will be our future leaders. It starts from a young age. We’re so much more alike than we are different.

“At one point, we sat in a circle and just spoke about how we see the future. Basketball is a bridge to connect people.”

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