Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

September 8, 2010
Casspi still no ordinary player

Today's reports of a mural of Omri Casspi being vandalized is a reminder of a couple things.

Hate is very alive in this country. And no matter how much he'd like to be a regular NBA player, it will be hard for Casspi to do that.

And this latest act of vandalism - a swastika painted on Casspi's mural - will put more attention on Casspi's heritage.

Casspi doesn't want being the first Israeli-born NBA player to be attached to his name whenever it is mentioned. It's something Casspi dealt with gracefully last season, but he craves to be known simply as a good basketball player.

Good luck with that. In a league dominated by African Americans, Casspi will continue to be seen by some as a novelty. There will be demands on Casspi's time and constant reminders that he represents an entire country and religion.

I wrote about the pressures of being Casspi toward the end of his rookie season. Casspi never complained about the pressure, or even admitted having an entire country focused on his every game bothered him.

There's not much the Kings can do to shield Casspi from some of the pressures. They could try to limit media requests. But if Casspi plays well, that would be hard to manage.

And there's nothing the Kings can do about fans that show up at arenas with the Israeli flag proudly displayed or the fans that cheer for Casspi to be given playing time when he's on the bench.

Casspi never mentioned hearing any anti-Semitic talk during games last season, though I heard about some fans making inappropriate remarks. I've never been one to put stock in what a drunk fan says, but it only takes one idiot to take things too far.

For Casspi's sake, I hope this is the last of the hate.

--Jason Jones



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