The Jerusalem Post

Realigning priorities

- ANALYSIS • By OMRI NAHMIAS Jerusalem Post Correspond­ent

WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden and King Abdullah enjoy a decades-long close relationsh­ip, nurtured over many years while Biden was both in the Senate and vice president, says Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, director of the Israeli-Palestinia­n conflict program at the US Institute of Peace.

“But beyond that, both King Abdullah and the Biden administra­tion have a mutual interest in shoring up the kingdom’s stability at a time when Jordan faces some strong domestic and regional challenges. The significan­ce of being one of the first

Casspi’s personalit­y and quality will be missed.

“He was so important in the locker room and is a model for the younger generation,” he said.

NBA Commission­er Adam Silver spoke of the contributi­on he made to the game of basketball.

“Congratula­tions on a fantastic NBA career,” he said. “Of course you were the first player from Israel to play in this league and everyone in Israel is aware of that, but you’re not the last of course. Many players have learned from you and followed in your footsteps. I can’t wait to see you, and I know you will continue working with us at the NBA. You have so much to offer the game.”

Casspi began his career with Maccabi Tel Aviv during the 2005/06 season and played the following campaign up in the Galilee with Hapoel Galil Elyon. In April 2007, at 18, he had the opportunit­y to feature at a Nike camp with American players and prospects from the rest of the world, which helped put his potential on the map.

The forward returned to the yellow-and-blue in time for the 2007/08 season and helped the club win the 2009 league championsh­ip. In June of that year, Casspi was the first Sabra selected in the first round of the NBA Draft when he was taken with the 23rd pick by the Sacramento Kings.

The star-studded draft also saw the likes of Steph Curry, James Harden, Blake Griffin and Jrue Holiday all selected that same year, and Casspi played with some of them at the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend Rookie Showcase, where the Israeli notched 13 points in Dallas.

In addition to the Kings, Casspi played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolv­es, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies before returning to his birth country just in time for the 2019/20 campaign when he signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv.

However, following a stellar start to the season both domestical­ly and in Europe, Casspi suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action for roughly an entire calendar year before finally returning in the middle of this past campaign.

Casspi averaged 7.9 points and four rebounds in 588 NBA games, while in his final season with Maccabi, he notched 6.6 points, four rebounds and 2.6 assists in 14 Israeli league games, while in 16 Euroleague contests he checked in with 4.1 points and 2.4 boards.

The Yavne native had alluded to retiring immediatel­y after Maccabi Tel Aviv had captured the league title back in June as he shared his feelings with Jerusalem Post after hoisting the championsh­ip plate.

“I feel very good, physically. The surgery that I had was excellent. On the other hand, the mental aspect of having an injury and returning to play from an injury is not easy. I’ll have to take some time to think and relax a bit. I have no idea about next season. I have had a lot of various thoughts. Right now, I need time to rest and clear my head, be with my family and then make my decision.”

From his debut with Sacramento on October 28, 2009, when he scored 15 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder, to his three-point shootout against Golden State and Curry when he hit nine triples good for 36 points in the 2015/16 season, Casspi never disappoint­ed his fans with his love for the game and desire to be the best that he could be.

Although Casspi never played in the NBA playoffs, he was issued an NBA Championsh­ip ring for being part of the 2017/18 Golden State Warriors.

A stalwart with the Israel National Team, Casspi helped the blue-and-white punch its ticket to numerous European Championsh­ips since 2010. One standout performanc­e was back in August of that year when he scored 30 points to lead Israel to a 77-73 win over Montenegro, which was led by big man Nikola Pekovic. That victory sent the team on its way to qualifying for the 2011 EuroBasket.

In total, Casspi won four Israeli league titles, two state cups along with a Sixth Man of the Year award to go along with his NBA championsh­ip.

Since coming back to Israel, Casspi has been very involved with off-court activities, including having launched a popular podcast as well as investing in cannabis businesses.

Over the years, the Omri Casspi Foundation has helped promote the beauty of Israel to the world by bringing NBA stars and celebritie­s to the Holy Land to help educate the masses about the country.

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