Rookie Tales: Omri Casspi
As the Wine and Gold make their way to California’s capital – for maybe the final time – Cavs forward Omri Casspi looks back on his days as a first-year player with the Kings.
Casspi didn’t come into the league with the pressure of most first rounders. He wasn’t just representing his family or his neighborhood. He was representing a country – entering the NBA as the first Israeli player ever drafted in the first round.
Casspi had one of his best seasons as a pro in that first year in Sacramento, averaging over 10 points per contest and working his way into the starting lineup for 31 games. But the adjustment – transferring to the game’s top level in an entirely new country – wasn’t easy, as the fourth-year forward explains in today’s Rookie Tale …
Was there a lot of pressure coming into the NBA the way you did?
Omri Casspi: There was, especially in the beginning. In the beginning, more than anything. That’s about it. But that’s part of growing.Did you have any family or friends with you to ease the transition?
Casspi: My brother was there with me for the first two years. Coming to a new country, to be with your brother – some family, someone to talk Hebrew with and be around, it was just phenomenal.What were the Kings like when you got there in 2009? Did the veterans initiate you at all?
Casspi: We were a very young team. We had some veterans as well. But, you know, I had to carry my little pink bag, bring fruit and stuff like that to practice. It wasn’t too bad.Was there a veteran who took you under his wing?
Casspi: ‘ Cisco. Francisco Garcia. He was one of my best friends and we still stay in touch to this day. He was a role model for me. We both play the same position. He showed me the ropes.How was Sacramento as a place for you to get your start?
Casspi: Sacramento’s low-key, but it’s a great city. I enjoyed it very much.So how do you feel about the possibility of the team relocating from there?
Casspi: It’s heartbreaking from so many points. Just for the city, the fans, everybody that embraces that team. It’s such a great fanbase. People really love that team; (they’re) really die-hard fans.
And from my own personal perspective, I started my journey there. So not to be able to go to Arco Arena – and now I don’t even know the name – not go to Sacramento at least once a year with the team, it’s heartbreaking.