Rockets' Omri Casspi Will Represent Israel for Hanukkah at White House

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:  Omri Casspi #18 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a play during the game against the Atlanta Hawks on November 27, 2013 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bill Baptist/Getty Images

Houston Rockets swingman Omri Casspi will visit the White House for what he hopes will be the first of many trips.

Casspi will attend the White House's menorah-lighting ceremony after being extended an invitation to participate as a representative of Israel, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen:

As a high-profile Israeli living in the United States, Casspi had been invited to the White House to meet President Obama and participate in a menorah lighting ceremony next Thursday. Casspi, who follows politics and government news avidly, said he was thrilled to officially receive the invitation late Tuesday and began making arrangements Wednesday afternoon.


“They kind of reached out to me about a week and a half ago. They told me they want to invite me to the Hanukkah event they have. I was just waiting for the formal invitation. I will represent Israel and the Jewish community.”

Casspi, who is in his fifth NBA season, is the first Israeli hoopster to ever play in the Association, per The Times of Israel's Spencer Ho. In his first season with the Rockets, he's averaging 9.4 points on 47.4 percent shooting from the floor.

Since most of us will never have the pleasure of being extended a White House-endorsed proposal, Casspi was kind enough to post a picture of the one he received:

Looks more like a pamphlet to me, and way fancier than any of the wedding and birthday invites I've come into contact with. You can sense the importance of the event just by looking at it, something that isn't lost on Casspi.

Traveling to the White House and meeting President Barack Obama is something he described as a dream come true, per Feigen:

It’s going to be fun. It’s a dream come true to be in the White House. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some people don’t ever experience that. To be able to go there and be able to tell my kids, whatever year I’ve got kids, that I’ve been there — it’s awesome.

Actually, it's a dream gone rogue. This isn't how Casspi imagined his first trip to the White House.

"I always thought it would be as part of a championship-winning team, but this is great," Casspi said of his visit, via Feigen.

The Larry O'Brien Trophy won't be accompanying Casspi to the nation's capital, so he'll have to settle for meeting POTUS as an average, everyday NBA player. I'm sure he'll get over it.

In fact, he's already over it. Absence of a championship isn't what's bothering Casspi most. Instead, he's lamenting the absence of time; time in which President Obama and himself could have played one-on-one.

"I wish we had some time to play, too," Casspi told Feigen.

Dec 4, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets small forward Omri Casspi (18) reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Obama is a known basketball aficionado, hence Casspi's interest. Unfortunately, no one-on-one matchup was put on the agenda. Maybe next time—if there is a next time. And if there is, you can be sure Casspi won't be playing aggressive defense.

"I don’t want any Israel-United States drama, more drama,” Casspi said. "Let him shoot. Let him score. Let him feel good. We need that support."

Sounds like Casspi thinks he could beat Obama in a pickup game, provided he tried. If the Rockets are able to win a championship, perhaps Obama will take some time out of his busy schedule during Casspi's next visit to see if he can prove him wrong.


    Sexton Doesn't Feel Pressure to Fill Kyrie's Shoes

    NBA logo

    Sexton Doesn't Feel Pressure to Fill Kyrie's Shoes

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report

    Rocket' Summer League Roster Begins to Take Shape

    Houston Rockets logo
    Houston Rockets

    Rocket' Summer League Roster Begins to Take Shape

    Sean Highkin
    via Rockets Wire

    Morey Will Be 'aggressive' in Free Agency

    Houston Rockets logo
    Houston Rockets

    Morey Will Be 'aggressive' in Free Agency

    Space City Scoop
    via Space City Scoop

    De'Anthony Melton Ready to Strut Amid a Dark Cloud

    Houston Rockets logo
    Houston Rockets

    De'Anthony Melton Ready to Strut Amid a Dark Cloud

    House of Houston
    via House of Houston