Mon. Dec 4th, 2023
Omri Casspi is expected to announce his retirement as a basketball player at a special press conference at the Maccabi Tel Aviv Hall of Fame on Sunday night.The first Israeli to play in the National Basketball Association will step away from the court at age 33 and hang up his sneakers on his own terms after having a couple of frustrating, injury-filled seasons since returning to Israel after a decade-long career in the world’s greatest league.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, as an 18-year-old, he had the opportunity to feature at a Nike camp between American players and prospects from the rest of the world that 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 Israeli league championship. In June of that same year, Casspi was the first Sabra selected in the first round of the NBA Draft when he was taken with the 23rd pick overall 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, Texas.

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 and entire calendar year before finally returning to 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 Israeli league title back in June, as he shared his feelings with The 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.

By senior