Plenty to celebrate at Warriors Jewish heritage game

A record 2,000 tickets were sold for this season’s Jewish Heritage Night with the Golden State Warriors, including 1,600 that people bought through the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

But the big turnout on Dec. 16 in Oakland’s Oracle Arena was only part of the story.

One of the highlights of the night was a scrimmage between the eighth-grade boys basketball teams from Brandeis Marin and the Brandeis School of San Francisco. The seven-minute game occurred during halftime of the Warriors’ 128-103 win over the Phoenix Suns.

“The players were over-the-top excited for the opportunity not only to play in Oracle Arena, but also to play on the Golden State Warriors’ championship court,” remarked Zane Wiley, coach of the Marin squad. “They will never forget it.”

Ethan Finestone of Marin and Sean Koffman of San Francisco drew the loudest cheers from the crowd, each nailing a long-distance shot from beyond the NBA 3-point line. A video of the scrimmage can be seen at www/

The 11th annual event also included an outdoor pregame party featuring the 10-piece Jazz Mafia band, DJ Kosha Dillz and latkes provided by Oakland Kosher Foods. There was even a menorah lighting despite Hanukkah having ended three nights earlier.

In a youth game at halftime (top), Jacob McGregor of the Brandeis School of San Francisco dribbles against Brandeis Marin. At right, Golden State Warriors backup center Festus Ezeli (center) meets with a handful of Jewish fans. left photo/courtesy michael parnes

“The lighting and pregame eats brought a special light to the game,” said Rabbi Yosef Langer of Chabad of San Francisco.

At halftime, the heads of the event’s three co-sponsors were introduced to the crowd: Langer, Danny Grossman, CEO of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, and Howard Sapper, founder of the Everybody Is a Star Foundation.

Everybody Is a Star is a Sonoma-based nonprofit that helps build self-esteem in young adults with special needs; at the Warriors’ game, a group of them sang “Hanukkah, O Hanukkah.”

Before the game, Jewish youth participated in a high-five tunnel, slapping hands with the Warriors’ players as they ran onto the court. The national anthem was sung by Pamela Rose, a San Francisco jazz and blues vocalist.

One of the fans at the game was rap star Drake, who attended Jewish day school in the Toronto area as a youth. One attendee said Drake was watching the Brandeis scrimmage “attentively” — and that he also had an exchange with Langer.

“My shofar was burning a hole in my ‘holster,’ ” joked Langer, “so I gave it to Drake as he strutted by with his personal entourage.” Drake presumably gave it back.

As for the game, the Warriors coasted to a 25-point win one game after a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks ended their 24-0 run to start the season. The win also boosted the Warriors’ record in Jewish heritage games at home to 8-3, which includes a string of five straight wins. — j. staff 


Kings’ Casspi scores career high in Oakland

Omri Casspi, the Israeli who has played seven seasons in the NBA, scored a career-high 36 points in a game this week against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.


Omri Casspi

Casspi, 27, tied a Sacramento Kings record with nine 3-pointers in the Dec. 28 contest, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Kings from losing 122-103 to the Warriors, who improved to 29-1. The Kings fell to 12-19.


Casspi, the NBA’s leading 3-point shooter at 51 percent, made seven of his 3-pointers in the first half, during which he and Warriors’ star Steph Curry engaged in a wild shootout. In one eye-popping 31/4-minute stretch, they hit nine 3-pointers and scored 29 of the game’s 31 points.

When asked about his performance, Casspi told the Sacramento Bee, “I’m not really happy about it. We lost.”

The 6-foot-9 forward who wears No. 18 signed a two-year deal with the Kings over the summer worth a reported $6 million. Born in Holon, near Tel Aviv, Casspi became the first Israeli to play in the NBA in 2009. He has played for three NBA teams, averaging 8.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game; this year, he has started 13 of the Kings’ 31 games and is averaging is 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds. — j. staff