Omri Casspi: The Ultimate Israeli
Founded in 1948, started with a bang, has undergone some impressive leaders and inspirational figures during the sixties, never stood on a stable ground, and suffered from depression in recent years, in part because of some painful failures. This description is adequate not only for the Sacramento Kings franchise, but for the state of Israel as well.
The Israeli people gathered into the state from all over the world – North Africa and South America, Eastern Europe and Western Asia – but generally found the common denominator in successes in international arenas. Events such as the first European basketball trophy in 1977 or the first Olympic gold medal in 2004, winning the European song contest several times or some magnificent military operations were able to arouse waves of optimism, support and pride along the country.
Up to this day, sports achievements raise the nation’s morale. But sticking an Israeli flag onto the NBA ground seemed like one desired but improbable mission, while even Iran and Lebanon, Scandinavian countries and tiny Caribbean islands did it before us. It seemed like this quest will never end.
It seems so appropriate for the Israeli people that Omri Casspi is going to be the one. He incorporates the Israeli spirit with some other ingredients. On the one hand, he’s the typical Israeli: Fights for everything without hesitation, energetic, want to be felt everywhere he goes (on the court), acts aggressively and fearlessly, in a way that can be seen even as arrogance and disrespect.
And, in the very same breath, he still expresses some kind of charming naivety, based on a feeling of self-confidence that cannot be shaken. “The message I want to convey to those who are watching now is this one”, the 21-years old man said today, “Do not let anybody, ever, tell you that you can’t achieve something”. It sounds almost like kitsch. But Casspi truly believes that.
On the other hand, when you’re searching for the worst aspects of the ‘typical Israeli’, some of them cannot be found in Casspi’s case. He didn’t leave anything to happen for itself, but impacted the situation so everybody would see his point. He insisted not to count on luck. He put a target on his wall and never took his eyes off it. This target included three letters: N, B, A, and Thursday was a giant step in that direction. And all of this comes even before we mentioned the athletic body or the wide shoulders, so far from generations of Israeli ballers who had to be super-smart, in order to compensate for physical inferiority.
Casspi wants to give every Israeli fan something to aspire to. In the same time, everybody can identify with him.