After 10 years in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Omri Casspi is coming back to play in Israel.
Casspi, the first Israeli to have played in the NBA, known as the world’s premier basketball league, was signed by Israel’s basketball powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, the club announced on Wednesday.
Casspi had previously played with Maccabi’s youth and adult teams, even helping the club win a state championship in 2009 before going on to become the NBA’s first Israeli first-round draft pick.
During his NBA career, Casspi played for the Sacramento Kings, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and Memphis Grizzlies.
He has been the captain of the the Israeli national team since 2015.
Casspi told Maccabi’s website after the signing that he was “very excited.”
“I didn’t think I would get excited like this. I’m coming home, I’m returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv. I’m returning to the home in which I grew up and learned what it is to play basketball in this gym up here. I arrived here at age 13 for the first time.
“I am proud and excited to start wearing Maccabi’s jersey with the Star of David on the back,” he added. “It’s a great privilege. This is the place that taught me what it is to be a winner, what it is to strive for victory at every opportunity. Maccabi today signed not just a player, but a fan.”
During his time in the NBA, Casspi was public in expressing his Jewish identity, and even led other NBA and WNBA players on a number of trips to Israel aimed at showing solidarity and combating BDS.