EDITOR’S NOTE: Several major media outlets including the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Politico reported that NBA player Rudy Gay traveled to Israel this week along with seven other NBA players. Mr. Gay, however, ended up not boarding Sheldon Adelson's plane and we have put out a call to find out why. The trip however has proceeded with players like Sacramento Kings teammate Demarcus Cousins, Chandler Parsons, Caron Butler, Iman Shumpert, Alan Anderson, and the trip's organizer Omri Casspi. Although Rudy Gay was not among the players, as was widely reported, I still hope this letter finds him and he can talk to his teammates upon their return.
Hey. We met once and had a solid, if brief talk about Baltimore, so here’s hoping you remember and this letter finds you well. I also hope you’re enjoying your summer trip as part of a delegation of eight NBA players traveling to Israel, organized largely by your Israeli teammate on the Sacramento Kings, Omri Casspi. It is a remarkable part of the world, and will be nothing if not an education.
Yet there is something about this trip that I have to assume you were not made aware.
I am not talking about the fact that the private Boeing 747 the eight of you took to Israel is owned by the terrifying, orange-coiffed right-wing billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. You have been a strong union guy, so I am guessing you know Adelson has spent millions trying to crush unions in the state of Nevada and beyond, often in a fashion that verges on the maniacally obsessed. He also spent $70 million trying to unseat President Obama in 2012 out of fear that this administration wanted to tax the billions he has stashed in his triad-run casinos on the island of Macau. (A great journalist, Rick Perlstein, described Adelson as someone who “makes you fear for our republic.”)
Yet Adelson is best known for financially propping up the hard right wing of the Israeli government, and calling for the dropping of an atomic bomb on Iran. Given his power, this is a threat that actually has weight. Adelson no doubt loves the symmetry of sponsoring a group of stars exactly one year from the Gaza bombings that claimed over 2,100 Palestinian lives, a death toll almost entirely made up of civilians. That’s how he rolls.
I’m sure you also know that this was not an NBA Cares function aimed to promote peace and understanding—even though they have apparently organized events as part of this trip—but something else entirely. As has been widely reported, your delegation was organized by Omri Casspi as part of a campaign to fight Israel’s increasing isolation as the result of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at fighting Israeli human-rights violations in the Palestinian territories, as outlined by the United Nations. Casspi is entitled to his politics, of course, and he is hardly shy, as demonstrated when he publicly scolded fellow NBA player Dwight Howard last year for tweeting “Free Palestine” as the bombs dropped on Gaza.