Omri Casspi RumorsAll NBA Players
Height: 6-9 / 2.06
Weight:225 lbs. / 102.1 kg.
Height: 6-9 / 2.06
Weight:225 lbs. / 102.1 kg.
“Throughout my six years in the league a lot of players asked me about Israel. ‘How is it over there?’ ‘I’ve heard good things,’ ‘I’ve heard bad things,’ you know. So why not come with me? You can see it through my eyes and through your own eyes—a different perspective from what you’ve heard,” Casspi said on the phone from Israel, where he is training with the country’s national team. To finance the trip, Casspi reached out to Schottenstein, a well-connected acquaintance with ties to the N.B.A. Schottenstein founded a custom-clothing company called Astor & Black that supplies bespoke suits to professional athletes, who, sartorial preferences aside, often require them. (In 2011, he sold the firm to a private-equity group for $50 million, he told me, his first business coup. Astor & Black filed for bankruptcy in 2013; a former employee of the company bought most of its assets for less than half a million dollars last year.) Quick-talking and forward, Schottenstein said that he had little trouble corralling funds for the trip from corporate sponsors and private donors. He also made a contribution himself.
One of the contributions came from Sheldon Adelson, the American casino billionaire and deep-pocketed supporter of right-wing causes. Some commentators—including Dave Zirin, of the Nation, who wrote an open letter condemning the trip—seized on this detail, connecting the trip with previous efforts by Adelson to combat the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, an international attempt to penalize Israel for perceived human-rights violations against Palestinians. The trip’s organizers are not shy about their own political leanings—during the last Gaza War, in 2014, Casspi tweeted, “600 missiles been fired from GAZA by Hamas in the last 4 days. NUMBERS DONT LIE. STOP LYING.”—but they bristle at the notion that the trip was part of an ideological program. According to Schottenstein, Adelson lent them a private jet to ease their travel, and also made a “small financial donation.” “Other than that,” he says, “there was no Sheldon Adelson agenda here. There was no political commentator on the trip trying to talk into these guys’ ears, telling them ‘x, y, z.’ None. Zero. Not one tiny bit.” (Adelson did not respond to a request for comment.)
Casspi similarly disavowed political intentions, and described the trip as a way to show his friends “his side of the world.” He spoke of sharing the pleasures of Israeli cuisine—hummus and falafel, in particular—and the wonders of the country’s history. He compared the trip to the San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker or the Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari bringing friends home to their native countries. “Obviously Israel is a little different” from France (Parker) and Italy (Gallinari), he conceded. But the principle was the same, he said, and he didn’t want to see “any stupid articles, really ignorant articles, saying ‘Stop Israel.’ There’s nothing political about it. It’s about having fun.”
Stoudemire posted a photo on Instagram of Israeli and Palestinian children embracing under the phrase “Pray for Palestine,” then deleted it shortly after. Dwight Howard, the center for the Houston Rockets, who was briefly teammates with Casspi, in 2014, tweeted “#FreePalestine,” before he, too, quickly deleted his post. “We talked, obviously, after he did it,” Casspi said of his former teammate. In subsequent tweets, Howard said that the hashtag had been a “mistake” and pledged never to comment on international politics again. (Howard did not respond to an interview request. Schottenstein mentioned him to me as one of the players he’d love to invite to the country, where he could “get an education on what’s what.”) “He didn’t know what he was saying,” Casspi said. “He apologized about it to me personally. I feel sometimes there’s such a misconception of what’s going on here.”
During the summer, Butler joined Kings coach George Karl, point guard Rajon Rondo, guard Marco Belinelli, and other new players, for dinner in Las Vegas. Talking about about a dinner that was attended by Kings players DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi, and new comers Rajon Rondo and Marco Belinelli, including head coach George Karl, Butler sounded as if accountability will be a big part of the season. “We just talked about laying a foundation about how we want to move forward,” Butler said. “And guys said all the right things and kind of aired out some issues that they had. And the participation in the voluntary workouts, we’ve been getting to know each other. I feel like it’s going to be a really good year for us and guys are just buying into winning and that’s what we need.”
David ‘Dubi’ Pick: Source: Kings scout Predrag Drobnjak in Lille, monitoring Omri Casspi and Marco Belinelli.