“There’s never any doubt about Omri’s effort; I admire Israel and the Israeli people so much” Paul Westphal on Casspi and the Holy Land to The Sports Rabbi in 2010

Jan 2, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Paul Westphal, Omri Casspi’s first head coach in the NBA passed away today after a lengthy battle with cancer. I had the privilege to meet and speak with Paul Westphal in November of 2010 before Sacramento played the Memphis while covering Casspi, the first Israeli in the NBA when he was playing for the Kings. Westphal spoke about Casspi as well as his admiration for Israel.

Omri Casspi – Photo Credit Dov Halickman

“There’s never any doubt about Omri’s effort. His level of achievement is higher than anyone ever expected it to be at this time of his career, or at least anybody in the Kings organization. What he’s done is fantastic compared to what other 23rd players in the draft where he was picked in the first round. He’s achieved so much but he’s just scratching the surface because he’s such a hard worker and because of his desire to improve, he’s improved quicker than we expected him to. When you come to the NBA you have to learn what you’re capable of doing, what your strengths and weaknesses are, but you have to learn how it fits into the team concept, compete with players on your team for playing time, against players you might not know their strengths or weaknesses. The learning curve is unbelievable. We’re really happy Omri’s here as a King.”

Omri Casspi – Photo Credit Dov Halickman

Westphal on Israel:
“I just couldn’t have more admiration for Israel. To be persecuted throughout world history, to be dispersed and then come back and not only exist but thrive with enemies everywhere is just nothing short of miraculous. I admire Israel and the Israeli people so much, words can’t even say what has been achieved and what will be achieved in the center of our world.”

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