Israeli NBA Player Omri Casspi Talks About Resurgence of Antisemitism in US
Israeli basketball player Omri Casspi talked about the resurgence of antisemitism in the US and his new career with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors in an interview published by Sports Illustrated on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old signed a one-year contract with the Warriors over the summer and said once news broke in Israel that he was joining the NBA champions, he received congratulations from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself.
“I remember the next day — I went to sleep, and since 6 a.m. my phone was blowing up. I had 400 missed calls, texts from all over, the prime minister…he was really excited,” Casspi recalled. “I talked to him, and I talked to the minister of sport on the phone.”
“They said they’re really proud and they’re looking forward to the opportunity of me playing there and coming to watch,” he added. “It was overwhelming, in a sense.”
Casspi traveled to Israel in August with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Hall of Famer David Robinson and several current players for a Basketball Without Borders camp, which brought together kids from 22 different countries and religious backgrounds. Through the Omri Casspi Foundation, he has organized for NBA players and celebrities to visit the Jewish state and said he hoped these trips bring positive attention to Israel.
“It’s creating a great P.R. for a beautiful country that gets so much bad P.R. at times,” he explained. “My thought was always just helping basketball develop and helping our country [Israel] have a very good atmosphere and buzz around it. Because it deserves it.”
The athlete also talked about antisemitism in the US and how it is “something that I’m always going to stand up against.” He told Sports Illustrated that he refused to get involved in “conflicts” — in politics and the Middle East, for example — but that antisemitism is “something that’s above politics.”
“And not only that,” he added, “just racism in general, people going up against them because of the color of their skin, their race or their religion — I’m always going to stand up against that. We live in a crazy time. But there’s plenty of wonderful people here in the US that are so much against it. We see the media going against it, and people around the country going against it. Hopefully this will go away as it came around, and that us as people will just come together and banish those who are trying to do those horrible things.”