By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill, in which we see athletes supporting typhoon victims; a legendary pool player; and a former UW star’s big shot.
Baldwin flies Philippines flag
During pre-game introductions at a recent home game against the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin ran out of the tunnel waving the Philippines flag in honor of those affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Baldwin, who is part Filipino, indicated that he has “too many family members to count” living in the Philippines, including his grandmother. All of Baldwin’s relatives in the Philippines are fine, but he still carried the flag to raise awareness and show support for others affected by the typhoon. Although there was some controversy because Baldwin carried the flag upside down, it was explained that it signifies a state of emergency for the country. The Seahawks partnered with the American Red Cross to collect money at the game and requested that people also donate online. Baldwin’s good deed proved to be good karma for the wide receiver — he scored a touchdown against the Vikings.
Gasol helps Typhoon victims
Baldwin was not the only professional athlete raising awareness for the typhoon victims. Before a recent game against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol pledged $1,000 to the relief effort for each point he scored. Fortunately, Gasol had a great night, getting 24 points in a win against the Warriors. Gasol donated $24,000 to UNICEF’s efforts to bring aid to the devastated region. Gasol promoted his efforts to his 2.3 million Twitter followers, who responded by pledging their own money to the cause, based on Gasol’s performance. Former Laker head coach Phil Jackson pledged $50 per point and $50 per rebound on Gasol’s behalf, which came to $1,700. The Lakers also donated $150,000 to the Philippine Red Cross.
It is great to see Gasol, a Spaniard, taking part in aiding the Philippines. It was also very savvy to get his Twitter followers involved. It’s refreshing to see Twitter being used for good and not just for following celebrities and saying mean things about them.
Interestingly enough, Gasol was part of the 2008 Spanish Olympic team that was chastised for a racially insensitive photograph in which the team made “slant eyes” in a less-than-humorous poke at the Chinese team. It appears that Gasol is making amends for his past.
The Black Widow honored
Jeanette Lee, also known as the “Black Widow,” a professional pool player from New York City, was recently elected to the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame. Lee, a Korean American, is one of the most recognizable pool players in the world. She was given the nickname “Black Widow” because she would “eat people alive” at the pool table. Lee quickly rose to the top of the Women’s Professional Billiard Association’s rankings, winning a plethora of titles despite her physical ailments, which include scoliosis and arthritis. At only 41 years of age, the Black Widow has many more years left.
Lee was easy to spot on the pool circuit when ESPN televised billiard tournaments because she wore all black. Even though she is a proven pool shark, she is also a sex symbol — she has been featured in ESPN’s “Body Issue,” in which athletes shed their clothes and pose for the camera covering very little.
Manny Pacquiao wins; problems at home
The Philippines’ most popular athlete returned to the ring in November and defeated Brandon Rios by unanimous decision. Pacquiao was back after 11 months away and ended a two-fight losing streak. Many doubted whether Pacquiao would be the same, considering the last time we saw the Pac Man, he was lying face down on the canvas after being knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. His wife, Jinkee, was in tears and begged Manny to retire after that loss. Pacquiao’s mother also requested that he move on from life in the ring. However, Pacquiao did not consider retiring.
With the questions surrounding his comeback, Pacquiao seemingly shrugged off questions about his return. But Typhoon Haiyan’s damage on the Philippines was a natural rallying point for Pacquiao. He pledged to win for the Philippines and donate to the relief effort.
Pacquiao’s latest fight took place in Macau, an island off the coast of China. This was in sharp contrast to his usual fights in Las Vegas, where big boxing events are normally held. One of the main reasons for the move to Macau was to attract the Asian market. It also helped Pacquiao in a number of ways.
First, it allowed him to stay at home in the Philippines, before leaving for Macau. Secondly, the plane ride was much shorter than the long trip to Las Vegas. Financially, Pacquiao benefits fighting outside of the United States because he doesn’t have to pay taxes on his guaranteed payday of $18 million. In addition, Pacquiao could have made up to $30 million, depending on how many people purchased the fight on pay-per-view. Even with a minimum payout of $18 million, Pacquiao faced some financial problems at home. The Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue froze his bank accounts, claiming the fighter owes 2.2 billion pesos ($50 million) in unpaid taxes. Although Pacquiao dedicated the fight to the typhoon victims and promised aid to the victims, he had to borrow 1 million pesos ($22,700) to purchase relief supplies and pledged to borrow more.
Pacquiao’s heart is where it should be, but falling into debt despite making so much money is concerning. Pacquiao’s representatives dispute the unpaid taxes, but the fact remains that he continues to fight to make money and it may begin to take a toll on his body. Regardless, he plans on fighting this spring, although it has not been announced who his opponent will be or where the fight will take place.
Tui time for Husky bowl game
There was turmoil in Montlake recently when the University of Southern California (USC) hired Huskies football coach, Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian left immediately for USC, leaving a big hole for the team to fill. The University of Washington (UW) has one more game left on its schedule – its bowl game. As a result, assistant coach Marques Tuiasosopo was chosen as the interim head coach to guide the Dawgs in their bowl game against the BYU Cougars.
Tuiasosopo, 34, played quarterback for the Huskies in their last appearance at the Rose Bowl in 2001. He began as an assistant at UCLA and then was hired by the UW to coach quarterbacks.
Although the Huskies have hired a permanent coach, Tuiasosopo should inspire the players for the bowl game and could prove to be a valuable assistant for the Huskies in the future. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.