The Layup Drill — a NEW monthly column about APIs in sports
By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Well, it was fun while it lasted. At least we can stop with the puns.
Jeremy Lin was on the cover of back-to-back issues of “Sports Illustrated” and was the toast of New York in bringing the Knicks franchise back to prominence. Unfortunately, Lin’s shooting star has dimmed a bit. An unfortunate knee injury laid up the Knicks point guard for the rest of the regular season.
Lin has remained positive about his rehab and even answered questions from fans via social media. The Q&A was cut short as Lin literally vomited while answering questions from fans. Apparently, Lin was still not feeling well after the surgery. So one really can get sick from having too many fans. I’m just kidding, of course.
One of the things Lin said was that he may still play this season if the Knicks make it to the second round of the playoffs. The problem is that the Knicks might not even make the playoffs without Lin’s help.
The future for Lin is a little cloudy after this season. He will be in the NBA next year, but for which team? His contract with the Knicks expires at the end of this season, and he’ll be a free agent. Will the Knicks resign him? If not, will we still experience as much ‘Linsanity’ as we did this year?
Before Lin was put on the injured list, he signed an endorsement deal with Volvo. Though I hope that Lin’s deal is lucrative, I didn’t envision the starting point guard
for the New York Knicks as a Volvo guy. He’ll now be a popular figure among soccer parents. Lin also started his own foundation to help underprivileged individuals and communities. As Lin told a reporter about the foundation, “It’s called the Jeremy Lin Foundation. Not as creative as we should have been.”
Judo coach turns 92
Judo is a form of martial arts involving throwing or taking down your opponent to the ground.
It’s an Olympic sport, thanks to Japanese-American Yoshihiro Uchida. For 66 years, Uchida has coached San Jose State University’s judo program, and he’s still going strong after turning 92 years of age earlier this month.
Under Uchida, San Jose State has won 45 out of 51 collegiate national championships in judo.
Uchida helped to develop the sport, and he became the judo coach for the United States national team when the sport made its debut at the Olympics.
Uchida, a California native, learned judo at the age of 10 and honed his craft over the years. He attended San Jose State University. However, Pearl Harbor changed his life. Like many Japanese Americans during World War II, Uchida served for the United States during the war.
And, like many Japanese Americans, his family was sent to an internment camp during World War II. He also faced discrimination within the military, as his unit was segregated from other races. On one occasion, a white soldier made fun of him and other Japanese Americans due to their race.
Uchida confronted the much bigger soldier and used judo to take him down. His actions made him a hero in his unit.
Uchida found it tough to find a job after the war due to continued discrimination. Fortunately, through connections, Uchida landed a job, which gave him time to practice judo, his passion. Despite his lifetime dedication to the sport of judo, Uchida is a firm believer that education comes before the sport, and in the end, personal character wins over all.
Baseball is back
The Texas Rangers signed Japanese sensation Yu Darvish to a contract. The 25-year-old pitcher received a 6-year, $60 million deal (that’s $10 million a year). The team almost won the World Series last year. Darvish, whose father is from Iran and mother from Japan, played professionally in Japan before deciding to come to America. Strangely enough, Darvish pitched against the Seattle Mariners and Ichiro. Despite a shaky start, Darvish did just enough to earn a win against the Mariners.
Speaking of the Mariners, they made a trip to Japan to start the season on March 28 and 29.
While most of us were asleep (due to the time-zone difference), the Mariners split two games in Tokyo. Ichiro pleased his adoring fans by getting four hits in his first appearance in Japan. The Mariners also added Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki. The 30-year-old was a star in Japan before deciding to play for the Mariners.
Despite the language barrier, Kawasaki is learning quickly so he can communicate with his teammates.
Japan and USA go at it again in soccer
The United States and Japanese women’s soccer teams played an exhibition match at the beginning of April as part of the Kirin Challenge Cup in Sendai, Japan. The U.S. team tied the Japanese team with a late goal by women’s Sounders FC team member Alex Morgan. It was a rematch of the great World Cup contest held this past June, where the Japanese upset the heavily favored U.S. team. The United States lost an exhibition to the Japanese last month in Portugal and narrowly escaped losing again.
Despite the losses to the Japanese, the United States remains the top-rated national soccer team in the world. The Japanese are ranked third.
Documentary focuses on boxers in China
Earlier this year, the Sundance Film Festival featured the film “China Heavyweight.” The documentary focuses on boxing trainer Qi Moxiang, who travels to central China, finding young boxers to train in hopes of one day competing for their country in the Olympics. The movie focuses on the central Chinese culture and its people as much as the sport.
The star of “China Heavyweight,” Qi, flew from China to the film’s premiere in Park City, Utah.
He received a standing ovation when he was introduced at the conclusion of the film.
It sounds like an interesting documentary that I hope makes it to the Seattle International Film Festival. With the popularity of mixed martial arts, many have forgotten the appeal of boxing. It is rare that we hear about the sport in China, as few boxers have had success outside of the amateur ranks. Thus, the opportunity to find someone to train for the Olympics is a monumental achievement.
Former UW Volleyball player digging for Olympics
Tamari Miyashiro is looking to compete in the London Summer Olympics. The former UW Volleyball standout is getting ready for the final selection process, which will determine the 12-player team that will represent the United States in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
About 20 or 30 other volleyball hopefuls will meet in Anaheim, Calif., later this month.
The ex-Husky has an impressive resume. She finished her Husky career as a four-time Pac-10 All-Conference selection, a three-time All-American, and in 2008, she was named the National Defensive Player of the Year by Volleyball Magazine. She also gained international experience as a player for Team USA at three tournaments in 2011. She won gold at the FIVB World Grand Prix. Good luck, Tamari! (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.