(photo credit: Uzi Zitiat)
In typical style, Gal Mekel was looking forward to working hard in training when
he was officially introduced as a Dallas Mavericks player on
Mekel became the second Israeli in the NBA, joining Omri
Casspi, after agreeing to a three-year deal with the Mavs last week.
deal could only be announced on Wednesday when the NBA’s annual moratorium on
signings and trades was lifted and the 25-year-old guard was visibly excited
when he spoke, sitting between his new coach Rick Carlisle and fellow rookie
“Since I got here two days ago it has been an unbelievable
experience for me,” said Mekel. “Last night I had a great dinner with coach
Carlisle and I don’t take it for granted that he took me out on my first night
in town. I can’t wait for the summer league to start and work my way
Carlisle said that he thought Mekel was “young enough to be a good
player and get better” and the Israeli, who was given number 33, was confident
of making the step-up to the NBA.
“I think that in every stage of your
career you face a new challenge and you have to make an adjustment,” he
explained. “I’m sure I’ll have to adjust to a few things here.
the speed and athleticism is different in the NBA than in Europe.
the fact that we play a lot of pick-and-roll in Europe can help me a lot. I told
coach last night that I’m willing to learn. I’m a marathon runner.
hard work results will come so I’m confident.”
Mavericks’ General Manager
and President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson explained some of the
thought process behind the addition of Mekel.
“We’ve been tracking him
for a while,” he said. “There aren’t many Israeli players that venture out and
he was not only in the [United] States in college, but also had a nice
experience in Benetton in Italy. Every step of the way he kept answering the
bell. He’s got an impressive resume and his age is right.”
With Casspi to
play for the Houston Rockets next season, the Texas derby between the Rockets
and the Mavs will also be an historic derby between Israel’s first two
representatives in the NBA.
“I know that all the people in Israel are
very excited and I’m really proud that our country now has two players in the
NBA,” said Mekel.
“Without me and Omri there’s a pretty good rivalry
between Dallas and Houston and I’m sure that with us it will be even more
It will be a really good experience for our country.”