Israel’s Omri Casspi picked in NBA draft
Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Omri Casspi was picked late in the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Casspi was picked 23rd by the Sacramento Kings, making sports history as the first Israeli ever to be picked to play in the NBA in the first round, a position that guarantees a contract.
The 21-year-old watched the draft from his home with his family, choosing not to travel to New York so he could share the moment with his loved ones. Sport 5 television broadcast the draft live from 2:30 a.m. local time – posting a camera in the living room of Casspi’s parents in the city of Yavne and capturing his emotional reaction to the pick.
“I can’t speak,” Casspi said, tears pouring down his face. “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life … I’m as happy as can be. We made history. I feel like I am in a dream.”
Draftexpress.com forecasts that he will go 26th to the Chicago Bulls, nbadraft.net estimated he will be selected 23rd by the Sacramento Kings and CNNSI’s Ian Thomsen projected he will be taken as high as the 20th pick, which belongs to the Utah Jazz.
Casspi led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a league championship this past year, averaging 12.6 points per game, and was named to the all-league team. He also starts for the Israel national basketball team.
“Anytime you fulfill a dream a new one arises,” he said, as friends poured champagne on his head. “I’m in a great place now and the goal is to become a legitimate NBA player.”