Omri Casspi officially announced his retirement from the game of basketball at a special press conference held at the Maccabi Tel Aviv Hall of Fame on Sunday night.
The first Israeli in the NBA decided to step away from the court and hang up his sneakers on his own terms after having a couple of frustrating injury filled seasons since returning to Israel after a decade long career in the world’s greatest league.
“Basketball has given me a lot”, Casspi began. “To come from from Yavne to go to Rishon Le’Zion and then Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA. I feel that I can still give of myself on the court but as for the mental aspect and responsibility I have to the club that I love I decided that it’s time to retire from the game I love. I worked very, very hard to accomplish what I did and I feel that whatever the age gave to me I was going to give back. I feel that I have made this decision with a full heart.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos also reflected on Casspi’s retirement, “We will miss Omri, his personality and quality. He was so important in the lockerroom and is a model for the younger generation.”
Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA spoke about Casspi’s contribution to the game of basketball, “Congratulations on a fantastic NBA career. Of course you were the first player from Israel to play in this league and everyone in Israel is aware of that, but you’re not the last of course. Many players have learned from you and followed in your footsteps. I can’t wait to see you and I know you will continue working with us at the NBA. You have so much to offer the game. From me and all your friends at the NBA, congratulations on a fantastic career.”
Casspi began his career with Maccabi Tel Aviv during the 2005/06 season and played the following campaign up in the Galilee with Hapoel Galil Elyon. In April 2007 as an 18-year old, he had the opportunity to feature at a NIKE camp between American players and the from the rest of the world in April 2007 that helped put his potential on the map.
The forward returned to the yellow-and-blue in time for the 2007/08 season and helped the club win the 2009 Israeli league championship. In June of that same year, Casspi was the first Sabra selected in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft when he was taken with the 23rd pick overall by the Sacramento Kings.
The star studded draft also saw the likes of Steph Curry James Harden, Blake Griffin and Jrue Holiday all selected that same year and played with some of them at the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend Rookie Showcase where Casspi notched 13 points in Dallas, Texas.
In addition to the Kings, Casspi played with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies before returning to his birth country just in time for the 2019/20 campaign when he signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv.
However, following a stellar start to the season both domestically and in Europe, Casspi suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action for roughly and entire calendar year before finally returning in the middle of this past campaign.
Casspi averaged 7.9 points and 4 rebounds in 588 NBA games while in his final season with Maccabi, he notched 6.6 points, 4 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 14 Israeli league games while in 16 Euroleague contests he checked in with 4.1 points and 2.4 boards.
The Yavne native had alluded to retiring immediately after Maccabi Tel Aviv had captured the Israeli league title back in June as he shared his feelings with The Jerusalem Post after hoisting the championship plate, “I feel very good, physically. The surgery that I had was excellent. On the other hand, the mental aspect of having an injury and returning to play from an injury is not easy. I’ll have to take some time to think and relax a bit. I have no idea about next season. I have had a lot of various thoughts. Right now I need time to rest and clear my head, be with my family and then make my decision.”
From his debut with the Sacramento Kings on October 28, 2009 when he scored 15 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder to his 3-point shootout against Golden State and Steph Curry when he hit nine triples good for 36 points in the 2015/16 season, Casspi never disappointed his fans with his love for the game and desire to be the best that he could be. Although Casspi never played in the NBA Playoffs, he was issued an NBA Championship ring for being part of the 2017/18 Golden State Warriors.
A stalwart with the Israel National Team, Casspi helped the blue-and-white punch their ticket to numerous European Championships since 2010. One standout performance was back in August of that year when he scored 30 points to lead Israel to a 77-73 win over Montenegro who were led by big man Nikola Pekovic. That victory sent the team on their way to qualifying for the 2011 Eurobasket.
In total, Casspi won 4 Israeli league titles, two State Cups along with a 6th Man of the Year award to go along with his NBA championship.
Since coming back to Israel, Casspi has been very involved with off of the court activities including having launched a popular podcast as well as investing in cannabis businesses.
Over the years, the Omri Casspi Foundation has helped promote the beauty of Israel to the world by bringing NBA stars and celebrities to the Holy Land to help educate the masses about the country.