NEW YORK (JTA) — The first Israeli player in the NBA received boisterous support at Madison Square Garden.
Omri Casspi, who is having a strong rookie season for the Sacramento Kings, heard loud cheers and chants on what was billed as Jewish Heritage Night.
Casspi, playing 45 minutes, contributed 18 points and 9 rebounds as the Kings rallied for a 118-114 overtime victory.
"This is not a regular game for me and it was important for me to start strong … show the coach and everybody that I am here to play and focus on basketball," Casspi said in reports.
Several hours before the game, the Israeli Consulate in New York hosted a reception for Casspi, a first-round draft pick.
At a question-and-answer session and shootaround before the game, Casspi reportedly said that the Kings’ players look out for him.
Casspi was chosen to play in Friday’s Rookie Challenge against the top second-year players during All-Star Weekend. He is averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds per game.