'Feels like home': Omri Casspi returns to Israel

Arutz Sheva interview: Israel's Omri Casspi sums up 10-year 'amazing journey' with the NBA, and why he chose to return home to Israel.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Omri Casspi
Omri Casspi
Arutz Sheva

Israeli-born NBA star Omri Casspi returned home this week, after 10 years playing basketball in the US.

Casspi, the first Israeli player to be picked up by the NBA, returned home to Israel after signed by Maccabi Tel Aviv.

A former Maccabi Tel Aviv player, Casspi’s return home this week was two-fold, moving back to his home country, and rejoining his former team.

Following his return to Israel, Arutz Sheva spoke with Casspi at the Maccabi museum in Tel Aviv Wednesday about his decision to come home after 10 years with the NBA.

“It feels like home, in a sense,” said Casspi. “I grew up here, my family is here, my wife is from here. Coming back feels very normal to us.”

Why did you come back?

“For many reasons. One of the main reasons is that me and my family were looking for some sort of continuity and…a place that we can find ourselves in a position to give the best we can to our daughters and our family.”

Coming “home is something we always thought we were going to do. It happened maybe sooner than we expected but we’re very excited to be back.”

As an Israeli in the NBA, how do you sum up the past 10 years?

“It has been amazing. It has been an amazing journey.”

“I want to thank the many amazing people who welcomed me to the US and made me feel it was my home away from home: from the Jewish community and the Federations, from the Chabad houses across the country that always brought me kosher food and welcomed me to their synagogues to the Jewish community in general.”

Did you feel pride abroad as an Israeli?

“Obviously. One of the things I’m very excited about is playing for Maccabi, and we have an Israeli flag on the back. We represent Israel. I represented Israel in my small way, in a sense.”

Casspi also noted his work in the past to bring celebrities from abroad to Israel to increase public awareness overseas of what life is really like in the Jewish state.

“I started a foundation to improve the image of Israel in the United States. I brought celebrities here…to talk about Israel in a very positive note. It is very important for us…to represent Israel a in a good perspective.”

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 Israeli national team since 2015.