The Houston Rockets’ Omri Casspi, the first Israeli hoopster to ever play in the NBA, relished the honor of meeting US President Barack Obama Thursday. Unfortunately, his dream of going one-on-one with the most powerful man on the planet was not on the agenda.
“I wish we had some time to play, too,” Casspi told Jonathan Feigen of the blog Ultimate Rockets. “It could have been fun.”
The 6’9″ Casspi said some court time with the president would have been a golden opportunity to improve US-Israel relations. “I don’t want any Israel-United States drama, more drama,” he said. “Let him shoot. Let him score. Let him feel good. We need that support.”
On the bright side, he was making his mother really happy by representing Israel as the White House marked the last night of Hanukkah.
“My mother is more excited than me,” Casspi said ahead of the event. “It’s going to be fun. It’s a dream come true to be in the White House. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some people don’t ever experience that. To be able to go there and be able to tell my kids, whatever year I’ve got kids, that I’ve been there — it’s awesome.”
Casspi had two stints with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, where he was part of two Israeli Super League championship teams and one that reached the Euroleague Finals. He was drafted 23rd in the 2009 NBA draft and played for the Sacramento Kings and the Cleveland Cavaliers before being traded for the Rockets ahead of the 2013-14 season.