Rebounding Jews

Published: March 15th 2010
in News » World

Jordan Farmar
Pic: WikiMedia Commons
Omri Casspi

There are two Jews in the NBA. That’s it. You’d think that with the popularity of basketball in Israel that we’d be represented by more than just two players in the National Basketball Association.  Do we lack the proficiency to execute a full-court press? Is our jump shot mediocre? Are we not tall enough? Until we start invading the NBA with right-at-the-buzzer-Kobe-style three pointers we’ll have to settle for Jordan Farmar and Omri Casspi.


Air (Jewish) Jordan


Jordan Farmar hails from Los Angeles, California. He started playing basketball at the tender age of four at the urging of his father, Damon Farmar. The elder Farmar was a minor league baseball player who passed his drive and devotion to sport onto his son.  Jordan attended Taft High School where he was named Southern California Jewish Athlete of the Year. Farmar also earned the Los Angeles Times High School player of the year award for 2003-2004. He attended college at UCLA where he established himself as one of the college basketball’s elite point guards. While at UCLA Jordan was showered with accolades including the PAC10 Freshman of the year award for 2004-2005.


In 2006 at the NBA pre-draft combine, the 6’2 Farmar impressed the scouts with a 42-inch vertical leap, leading his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, to draft him 26th overall.  After a quick stint in the NBA D-League (the National Basketball League’s minor league system), Farmar was ready for the big-time. He spent most of rookie year as a backup to Smush Parker. Jordan got his first career start on April 15th, 2007, replacing Parker in the lineup. Unfortunately for Jordan, when veteran point guard Derek Fisher rejoined the Lakers he was forced to serve once again as backup. Although he is a backup point guard, Farmar has factored heavily into Coach Phil Jackson’s rotation playing approximately 18 minutes per game with an average of 6.8 points.


In August of 2008 Farmar put his celebrity and skills to good use by spending a week in Israel leading a basketball camp for Israeli and Palestinian children, allowing them to put aside their differences and play on the same team.


The Sixth (Israeli) Man


Omri Casspi is the first Israeli to play in the NBA. Baller Oded Kattash came close after signing with the Knicks but didn’t actually play due to the 1998-1999 lockout. Casspi was born in Holon but grew up in Yavne and spent his youth on the court. At 13 he played for the Maccabi Tel Aviv Youth Team helping them win the 2005 State Youth Championship. On loan from Maccabi Tel Aviv, Omri played for Hapoel Galil Elyon and won the illustrious Newcomer of the Year Award.


In 2009, the Sacramento Kings came calling for the 6’9 Casspi and drafted him 23rd overall.  He has started 21 plus games for the Kings with an average of 27.9 minutes and 12.1 points per game. This small forward was also chosen to participate in the 2010 NBA All-Star festivities. Casspi, along with Kevin Durant and Rajon Rondo were part of the NBA All-Star Weekend H-O-R-S-E competition.


Somewhere out there Red Auerbach is proud.

Related articles: (NBA, Jewish Athletes, basketball, jordan farmar, omri casspi, Israeli athletes)

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