Columns - 2010

    Jewish Hoopla

    by Doug Brook
    Southern Jewish Life columnist

    (Facebook extra, February 19, 2010)

    For several years in this space, all three readers have raptly read about Jewish Heritage Night at the San Francisco Giants, and even once at the New York Mets. Now, for the first time on this stage, here is bonus coverage from the other side of the calendar and of San Francisco Bay.

    The Golden State Warriors, an Oakland-based team which, due primarily to historical precedent, claims to still play in the NBA, hosted its latest Jewish Heritage Night. Not only did they celebrate Ash Wednesday by providing a free Jewish Heritage t-shirt and kosher hot dog, but they provided an equally rare victory, beating the Sacramento Kings 130-98.

    In an alternate reality, where both teams are not perennial bottom-feeders, this game could have been dubbed a David (Kings) and Goliath (Warriors) matchup. And maybe a feature writer could have gotten a date for the game.

    But the highlight of the event was that, while Jews might have taken the NBA to court before, this game featured the first Israeli player to take to an NBA court, Omri Casspi.

    This well-planned coincidence brought out Israeli flags in droves in the stands, where droves is defined as greater than or equal to three. This might have included the Casspi Israeli flag from Sacramento, a mere two-hour drive, which is brought to every Kings home game by members of a local synagogue.

    In Israel last summer, Casspi's father presented the flag to a visiting Sacramento rabbi, after Casspi was drafted by the Kings. Casspi Sr. had brought the flag to all of Casspi's international and Israel League games, and the rabbi in his High Holy Day sermon last fall appealed to congregants to help organize and ensure it gets to all home games this year. But other media have covered the story, so it won't be recapped here.

    Before the game, a mostly girls group called Hip Hop Craze danced "in celebration of Jewish Heritage Night." In what way this celebrated Jewish Heritage Night was left to interpretation, as was the dancing.

    Casspi was the first player introduced, to good applause from this Casspian Sea of fans. Early in the first quarter, Casspi showed that he might handle an aliyah better than an alley-oop, by just missing the lay-in. However, moments later Casspi celebrated Yom Kippur early, atoning for the miss by violating the Seventh Commandment at midcourt in stealing the ball and driving for a layup.

    After one quarter, the Warriors led Casspi's Kings 30-29 despite his seven points, playing the entire quarter.

    The second quarter saw Casspi used only sparingly, getting several key rebounds but no points in just four minutes. This might be a convenient explanation for how the Warriors rattled off an amazing run to take a 72-45 lead into halftime.

    Did you forget this was Jewish Heritage Night? Apparently, so did the Warriors, because there was no allusion to it in the entire first half.

    However, at halftime a group of nine high school girls from a local Jewish establishment did a dance routine that could stop even the most furrow-browed Jewish mother from worrying whether her son might find Jewish girls appealing, and make her instead worry about just how appealing, and at what age. Various groups with "Israel," "David," "Beth," "Chris," "JCC," and "LLP" in their names were welcomed on the big screen.

    Local icon, and controversial bobblehead model, The Rally Rabbi stood in the stands, replete in his traditional black hat, black coat, and gray ZZ Top beard, and blew his shofar on the big screen to start the third quarter.

    For six scattered minutes, Casspi played second fiddle and might as well have been on the roof, scoring none as the Warriors led 107-76 after three periods.

    But in the fourth quarter, Casspi found himself again, perhaps fueled by playing in his native tongue's right-to-left direction, scoring four more points in seven minutes for the hapless Kings, whose monarchy these days resembles the southern kingdom of Judea in its final hours.

    Casspi ended his clean game with 11 points, 7 rebounds, no fouls, one broken Commandment, and a slew of endeared fans on a visiting court. What more could he ask? Well, aside from a better team record?

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who hit the winning turnaround jumpshot in the three-on-three tournament his Israel tour group had at Kibbutz Hanaton. No lie. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit For exclusive online content, become a fan of The Beholder's Eye on Facebook.


    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.