Casspi ready to shine in All-Star Weekend debut

By JOSEPH D. ROBBINS
February 12, 2010 06:51
3 minute read.

One night after their emotional Jewish Heritage Night win at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, the Kings continued their winning ways, topping the Pistons 103-97 in Detroit.

Winning back-to-back road games for only the second time this season, the victory was the team’s 18th of the season, surpassing its win total from last year.

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While most of the NBA has the weekend off to celebrate reaching the season’s halfway point, two key components in the Kings’ resurgence boarded a plane to Dallas Thursday to prepare for the 2010 All-Star Weekend festivities.

Known as the most fun three days of the NBA season, All-Star Weekend brings the best in the game and the league’s brightest rising stars under one roof to battle it out in an East vs West showdown.

Headlined by the All-Star Game on Sunday night, the weekend also includes other festivities such as a celebrity game, the Rookie Challenge, the three point contest and the fan favorite Slam Dunk Contest.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post before Tuesday night’s matchup at Madison Square Garden, Casspi was thrilled at having been selected to compete in the All-Star weekend, calling it the greatest moment of his sports career along with being drafted in the NBA.

“It is great to be recognized. It’s the top of the basketball world. To be part of the Rookie Challenge, it’s very exciting. I am honored and it is a dream come true.”

Casspi and teammate Tyreke Evans will represent the Kings on the rookie squad in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge on Friday night.

Also known as the “Rookie/Sophomore Game,” the contest pits the top first-year players against the top second-year players in a battle for respect from the veterans.

Casspi, who enters the break averaging 12.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 47% from the field, will team up with fellow rookie sensations Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

In addition to the rookie game, Casspi has also accepted an invitation to battle point guard Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and defending champion Kevin Durant in the “H.O.R.S.E.” competition on Saturday night.

Based on the classic schoolyard game, the event tests the participant’s shot-making skill. Once an order is established between the three participants, the first player will have 24 seconds to create and make a shot.

The next player in order will have to match the shot made by the first player. A missed shot following a made shot results in a letter, and players are eliminated after five letters, when the word H-O-R-S-E is spelled.

The players will compete until one man is left standing, and that player will be named the 2010 H.O.R.S.E. champion.

Although the sophomores have beaten the rookies seven times in a row and eight of ten overall since the competition’s inception, the rookies have an exceptionally strong class this year.

What the rookies lack in size with most of their big men being shooting forwards (such as Casspi), they make up with excellent guard play from Evans, Jennings, Curry and Jonny Flynn.

Look for the rookies to make things interesting and give the Sophomores a run for their money, even if they ultimately fall for the eighth straight time.

In terms of the H.O.R.S.E. competition, things will not be easy for Casspi as he has to face a crafty guard and the defending competition champion who has played himself into one of the top players in the NBA this season.

However, Casspi has shown himself to be a player who feeds off of pressure and thrives when in the national spotlight. He also has an array of spectacular dunks that the other two lack, which could come into play.

Tune in for a great weekend of basketball fun, featuring Israel’s own golden boy!

Joseph D. Robbins is currently completing a Master’s in Education at Columbia University in New York City. Check out his blog “Robbins Rants” at http://www.robbinsrants.com.


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