From a young age Omri Casspi's parents pressured coaches and managers to advance their son's career. Analysts have claimed that they were behind the firing of Victor Skornik, the coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv's youth team, that they intervened with his high school team and were involved in his struggle with Shawn Daniel on the national under-19 team and again a year ago at Galil Elyon.
Yesterday, Omri's father Shimon crossed the line again. In an interview with Walla! Sport, he discussed his recent attempts to get his son released from the champion. "I asked Zvi Sherf two weeks ago to help me release the boy," said the elder Casspi. "He can't advance on Maccabi because there's no path there." He complained that Oded Katash "does whatever he feels like, like he did at Galil." Sherf responded, according to Casspi, that because he wears two hats - team assistant manager and national team coach - "if he'll intervene they'll say such and such. I told him if he weren't capable of holding both jobs he should quit one."
Shimon Casspi then approached David Federman and told him "you're coach isn't doing anything. He contributes nothing. He has no methodology. No decisions are being made, and he's jealous of Omri, simply jealous." Federman allegedly replied that he'd rather "raise a coach than a player." The father believes Katash isn't ready to accept an Israeli player better than Katash was and claims he told his son's coach last year, "You're jealous and afraid a better player than you will arise, but it won't help you. Omri will be better than you."
The spat between Katash and the Casspi family started last season. After losing in Jerusalem, a game in which Katash benched Casspi in the second half, his parents waited for the coach in the parking lot, where they yelled at him, "You're a good-for-nothing. You're no coach, and we won't let you destory Omri." A shocked Katash did not respond, and the next day he told Omri his parents' behavior wouldn't affect his standing on the team. Indeed, Casspi returned immediately to Galil's starting lineup and was party to the team's fantastic finish to the season.
Immediately after Katash's appointment as Maccabi coach, his parents wanted Omri to play at Bnei Hasharon, but Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman Shimon Mizrahi insisted on keeping the player another two years in line with his contract. The two sides agreed that if Casspi wouldn't be among the top eight in the rotation, he would be released from his contract at season's end. The small forward is currently 11th on the team in terms of minutes per game.
Maccabi didn't feel a need to respond to Casspi's father and rarely did. "Mr. Casspi is not a party to any agreement with Maccabi Tel Aviv, so management doesn't believe it should respond to the many accusations he is making against the team," a team official said. Team management regrets the damage the father's irresponsible behavior may cause his talented son."
Maccabi board member and part owner Raanan Katz told Haaretz, "Will Casspi be picked in the NBA draft? It's his father's dream, and according to data on the Web site 'Draft Express,' it's a bunch of malarkey." The Web site projects him as a possible 25th pick in the 2009 draft.
Katz asks rhetorically, "What would Maccabi get if he'd make the NBA? We wouldn't get any money because anyway his contract is about to expire. It's time to stop driving Omri crazy. He has fantastic potential. I like him a lot, but we have a coach who knows what he's doing, and he'll decide whether or not to release him to get more playing time on another team."
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