NBA Veteran Omri Casspi on Return to Israeli Basketball: Maccabi Tel Aviv ‘Was Obviously the First, Second, and Third Option’

Omri Casspi of the Memphis Grizzlies dribbles past C.J. Mills of the Toronto Raptors. Photo: Tom Szczerbowski-USA Today Sports via Reuters.

Veteran Israeli NBA Player Omri Casspi is returning to Israel after ten years to play for the Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, calling the popular basketball team, “the first, second, and third option.”

Casspi played for ten seasons with various NBA teams, and received a championship ring during his tenure with the Golden State Warriors. Following an injury this season, he was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies and chose to return to Israel.

In an interview on Wednesday with Israeli news site Mako, Casspi, who previously played for Maccabi Tel Aviv from 2005-2009, said he chose to return to Israel because he and his family “were looking for very specific things both as a family and on a professional level. One of the things that mattered to us was stability on both levels.”

“We wanted a place that strives to win a championship or high-level competition,” he added. “Maccabi was obviously the first, second, and third option.”

“I’ve always been and always will be a team player. That’s what I believe in, I don’t believe in one-on-one because it doesn’t lead to achievement and success. I think one of the things that was important to me when I got there was to see the team that was built and the professional staff,” he said of his return to Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“We are part of a group in a system that is bigger than any player who plays here or will play here in the future,” he added. “When you look at things that way then things are put in the right proportion.”

“We have a good, talented team, a lot of work and lots of teams to deal with. There will be interesting and challenging competition. We’re all in this boat together,” Casspi said.

Speaking of his own ambitions, he stated, “As far as Maccabi is concerned, I don’t know any term except to be the best. … This club taught me what winning is, and what it is to aspire to win every game. It’s not something that will change.”

“I know we have a talented team, an excellent coach, there is a lot of work ahead of us, and we can do beautiful things together,” he said.

In particular, Casspi cited Maccabi’s head coach, Ioannis Sfairopoulos, who he believes wants to maintain the team’s essentially Israeli character.

“One of the things I loved about him was his directness and his belief in the local player,” Casspi said. “He believes that a local character should be given to the team. … Our responsibility as players is to teach and outline and understand what Maccabi is.”

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Author: Benjamin Kerstein


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