Eran Soroka of Ma'ariv attended Omri Casspi's press conference this morning in Tel Aviv. He passed along a great dispatch, which you can read after the jump ... along with a couple other treats.
Casspi started the press conference by saying: "I'm very excited and happy to be the first Israeli in the NBA. It's every player's dream. I've been through a long journey until I became a first round pick. The Kings weren't ver successful last year in the league, and they're trying to rebuild.
"I think that the Kings are excited as well. I talked with them after the pick, I'll speak to the coach later. All along the way, they told me they believe in me and want to see me. I think that Sacramento is a great place to grow and develop as a player.
"I know I'll leave a good impression of the Israeli player to the ones who'll follow", he added. "I hope to open the door to others, who play nowadays in youth leagues. It's a great honour to the Israeli basketball, and I'll be happy when people will wake up early in the morning to watch the Kings' games".
Casspi, accompanied at the table by Maccabi Tel Aviv eternal chairman Shimon Mizrachi and his father, Shimon Casspi, was trying to relive the moment of the pick: "It was an exciting moment. When David Stern went to the podium, I saw this smile, like he's trying to hide something he knows. When he said 'Omri Casspi', it was a feeling I can't describe. It was a dream came true, from the days I woke up in the middle of the night to see Michael Jordan and the great Chicago Bulls".
"I think that the situation in Sacramento is great for me. It's a team that tries to build for the long run, and I believe that slowly, something beautiful can be built there. The team officials told me they believe in me, I think every player in the squad will be given a chance. I hope to prove myself on the court".
Thanks again to Eran for his great help in educating Sacramento fans about Omri.
While we're at it, I found this passage from a 2007 Luis Fernandez DraftExpress report on the U-19/U-20 Douai tournament to be really awesome. Casspi was 19 years old at the time, and Fernandez named him the MVP of the tournament, which included teams from France (featuring Nico Batum and Alexis Ajinca), Lithuania, Australia and the United States.
Casspi emerges as a majestic presence on court. He is long, well built, fluid, athletic, while displaying a nice feel for the game-- a real pleasure for the eyes. We've found a more athletic Casspi than we remembered, really exuberant going for the dunk. Of course, he keeps putting on a show on court with his expressive behavior, wildly celebrating plays, complaining to the refs, really enjoying the spotlight.
The article isn't that glowing in total, but this was too exciting a find to pass up.
And of course, we need a requisite highlight reel.
I hope they don't hand out technicals for hanging on the rim in summer league.