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Jewish Journal

Israeli-Iranian peace in the NBA

by Adam Wills

November 24, 2009 | 7:37 pm

Omri Casspi, left, shook hands with Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi, the NBA's first Iranian player, on Nov. 23. Photo courtesy NBA

Before the Grizzlies’ 116-105 win over the Kings last night, Memphis center Hamed Haddadi, the league’s first Iranian player, took some time out to meet and shake hands with Sacramento’s Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA.

The meeting was a first for Haddadi. In 2005, Haddadi’s Iranian team was not allowed to go to Argentina for the FIBA World Championship for Young Men because of the possibility of Israel being an opponent.

Earlier this month, before the season’s first Grizzlies-Kings match-up, Haddadi told Journal contributing writer Chris Tomasson, “It is just a sport. I don’t know what happened with the two countries. I don’t care. I just do my job. I don’t think about politics ... I do not think what the two positions of Iran and Israel is.”

Casspi finished last night’s game with 15 points and two technical fouls, which got him ejected. Haddadi didn’t play, leaving fans to wait until March 22 for the next Grizzlies-Kings match-up in Sacramento.

In related news, L.A. Clippers announcers Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith were suspended for one game last Friday by Fox Sports Prime Ticket for comments made about Haddadi from Memphis last Wednesday, which offended a viewer:

Lawler: “Wow. Haddadi, that’s H-A-D-D-A-D-I.”

Smith: “You’re sure it’s not Borat’s older brother?”

Smith: “If they ever make a movie about Haddadi, I’m going to get Sacha Baron Cohen to play the part.”

Lawler: “Here’s Haddadi. Nice little back-door pass. I guess those Iranians can pass the ball.”

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