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

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

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.

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