Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to play for the NBA and one of Israel’s greatest basketball players of all time, announced his retirement from the sport Sunday night.
The 33-year-old forward, who spent his last two seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv, has long suffered from a knee injury that prevented him from playing for much of the last season.
“Basketball gave me a lot,” he said at a press conference on Sunday. “I’ve reached the highest heights – playing against LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, going to the White House.”
Maccabi, he added, had “welcomed me like family.”
“I worked very, very hard to achieve what I achieved, and I’m leaving with a sigh of relief and very great satisfaction,” he concluded.
Casspi began his career on Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth team. He was promoted to the adult team in 2005, launching a 16-year career as a pro, and later led the team to the state championship. In 2009, he entered the NBA Draft and was picked by the Sacramento Kings.
“I never believed I’d realize my dream,” he said on Sunday. “And, I played a small part in the fact that young children now believe they can reach Maccabi Tel Aviv and the NBA.”
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In his first year with the NBA, he was chosen for the all-star team. After two years with the Kings, he moved to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he also spent two years. In 2013, he signed with the Houston Rockets, with whom he reached his first NBA playoff.
Over the next several years, he played for several different teams. But he suffered various injuries, and in 2019, he had to leave the NBA.