Israelis always feel a sense of pride when someone famous posts a photo from a holiday in Israel. This week, seven NBA stars had social media on edge as dozens of photos of DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi, Chandler Parsons, Caron Butler, Rudy Gay, Tyreke Evans, Alan Anderson and Iman Shumpert popped up slathered in Dead Sea mud, under Jerusalem parasols, in a helicopter over the Galillee, surrounded by kids at the Western Wall, etc.
The basketball stars are in Israel to learn more about Casspi’s home base, to tour the country’s top sites and to take part in a summer camp experience.
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson sponsored the players’ flight to Israel on his private jet. The tour was organized by a foundation the Holon-raised Casspi started to combat the Boycott Israel movement.
The masters of hoops held two camp workshops with up-and-coming basketball hopefuls of the Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv clubs. They also took part in charity events organized by NBA Cares, the league’s global community outreach program.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social-media sites could barely keep up with the guys’ photos as they posted group shots at landmarks in the Galilee, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Dead Sea area.
At the newly opened Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, Sacramento Kings forward Butler said: “It was amazing to touch the largest screens I have ever seen in my life! It was just mind blowing, a great experience! I feel like this is a must do; anyone who comes to Jerusalem must visit this museum.”
The museum gave Casspi the Defender of Zion award for supporting Israel and combating BDS.
“It is really important to show the world the freedom Israel gives to each religion to practice their faith. Seeing the Christians through out history helping out our country and our people it really touched my heart,” said Casspi, who recently signed a new deal with the Kings.
“Gal Mekel told me that this was an incredible place. I have never eaten so much Hummus in my life. This is an experience that I will never forget. Going to the Western Wall was simply amazing,” Dallas Mavericks’ Parsons told Breaking Israel News.
And Cleveland Cavalier Shumpert said: “I knew this country was a beautiful place. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but so far on this trip everything has been really positive. We’ve had a great week so far.”