It's not easy to keep kosher in the NBA, Omri Casspi said, but he does his best at home and on the road.
"When you land at 1 o'clock at night at Indiana, for example, you need to have dinner," said the Cleveland Cavaliers forward. "So it's not easy, but it is what is. I'm proud of me and who I am and what I'm doing."
When he's not traveling with the Cavaliers, Casspi gets most of his food from Jerusalem Grill in University Heights.
Co-owner Oren Gahanian said more than anything, Casspi wants to feel at home in Cleveland.
"He's looking for the home cooking," Gahanian said. "He's looking for something to keep him warm. He's not looking for fancy shmancy."
One of Gahanian's friends at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland was acquainted with Casspi, Gahanian said. She promised to bring Casspi to Jerusalem Grill to sample the food.
"He had a little dinner," Gahanian said. "He tasted some stuff, and he said, ‘OK, from now on this is what I want. I'll come every week.'"
With most NBA players, there are dietary guidelines they have to follow. For Casspi, Gahanian mostly cooks schnitzel, pasta, rice and other food high in carbohydrates and protein.
"Everything here is strictly kosher," Gahanian said. "I talked to his cook in Sacramento (where Casspi played before being traded to Cleveland) ... He basically told me what (Casspi) likes, how he likes his food. We organized it so (Casspi) picks up his food or I deliver it."
Gahanian told Casspi he'd be fair with the pricing.
"I want Omri to be more of a friend to me," Gahanian said. "I want him to feel at home. I literally told him I'll do anything to help you perform good for the Cavs; that would make me more than happy. The money's not an issue."
- Matt DeFaveri