By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. It’s a packed edition with a no-hitter, golf prodigies, and we start with our favorite NBA player Jeremy Lin.
He was once the toast of New York. He was alright as a Rocket. Can he be the life of Los Angeles?
The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Jeremy Lin from the Houston Rockets for a first round draft pick. Lin, who will be paid $18 million this year, became expendable to the Rockets organization after just a couple years with the club. “Linsanity” signed on with the Rockets, where one of his role models, Yao Ming, made his name. The departure from New York was bittersweet and confusing at the time. Lin’s story is well-chronicled as it seemed guaranteed that he would have more than just 15 minutes of fame. However, in Houston, injuries and a hard-working, journeyman point guard by the name of Patrick Beverley led to him being benched, despite being one of the highest-paid players on the team.
Even before the trade, the Rockets were ready to part ways with him. They courted LeBron James before he decided to head home to Cleveland. Then they attempted to recruit Lin’s former teammate with the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony. The Rockets were so hopeful for Carmelo to sign with the Rockets that they put Carmelo’s image in a mock Rockets jersey with his number 7 on it. The problem was that the Rockets number 7 belonged to Lin at the time. Lin felt disrespected for the second time. Anthony seemingly forced him off the team. Remember Linsanity began when Anthony was injured and disappeared when he came off of the injured reserve. Anthony was central to the Knicks team and once he returned from injury, Lin’s need to be a focal point of the team was no longer wanted or needed.
Perhaps the Lakers will be a nice change for Lin. He’s back in California, close to his Bay Area roots. The Lakers are a very young team coming off of a terrible season, where they missed the playoffs. He’ll have to play alongside Kobe Bryant, one of the most demanding teammates ever. Good luck to Lin. We all hope that he remains healthy and gets back to the days of Linsanity.
World Cup wrap-up
The World Cup ended this past Sunday with Germany defeating Argentina 1-0 in extra time. It was a successful month for the World Cup as fans all over the world once again clamored to watch the games.
There were many close games with surprising teams, such as Costa Rica and disappointments like Italy and Spain. Then there was the United States. When it was known that they were in the same group as Portugal, Ghana, and Germany, it was thought that the United States could not make it out of that round. However, the team played well enough to make its way into the round of 16, before losing to Belgium.
The Asian teams that played in the World Cup did not fare as well as the United States. Japan and South Korea were both eliminated early. Although both were not favored to advance, each team proved to be a disappointment.
South Korea finished last in its group at the World Cup, as it lost to Belgium and Algeria. Its only saving grace was a draw against Russia. South Korea has been to nine World Cups, which is more than any other Asian nation, yet has not been able to emulate its magical 2002 World Cup run when it made it to the semifinals as it hosted the World Cup. This year, fans threw candy at members of the World Cup team at the airport upon their return home. The head coach of the South Korean national team made a formal apology to the people and fans of South Korean soccer.
Japan finished last in its grouping with losses to Columbia, the Ivory Coast, and a draw against Greece. The Ivory Coast game was painful as Japan was ahead on a goal by its star Keisuke Honda. But two goals within two minutes by the Ivory Coast stunned Japan and the team could not recover.
The only bright spot for Japan was the class act of Japanese fans that traveled to Brazil to watch their team play. They cleaned up after themselves in the stadium after each game. Despite its performance, the fans made sure that they did not take out their disappointment on the stadium.
Chinese cyclist competes in Tour de France
The Tour de France started this month and while most cycling fans in the United States do not follow the sport as much as they did when Lance Armstrong (pre-discovery of his drug use) was participating, those interested in the sport should watch for the name Ji Cheng. The 26 year old will be cycling with Team Giant-Shimano. He is the first Chinese rider to participate in the Tour de France. Ji chose to cycle due to his ability to train indoors during the cold months in his hometown.
The Tour de France is a month-long, multi-stage bike race. Known for the exhausting rides, mountain climbs, and hilly descents, the race goes through France ending in Paris. It’s likely Ji will not wear the yellow jersey (signifying winning the tour), but it is an accomplishment that he might build on in the future.
Michelle Wie wins tournament…finally
Known as a child prodigy, Michelle Wie was said to be good enough to play with men. Whether it was expectation or pressure, Wie did not meet either. She was a polarizing figure on the tour with many writing her off before she was 21. Only 24, Wie finally won her first major golf tournament, as she won the U.S. Women’s Open in June.
The US Open is Wie’s first ever “major” Ladies Professional Golf Association title. So far this year, she has won $1.6 million in prize money. Although she was thought to have won more “major” titles at 24, she still has a lot of years ahead of her to build on her win.
11-year-old Li competes in US Open
Speaking of prodigies, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest qualifier in the US Women’s Open. Li, a Chinese American from California, has a lot of accomplishments packed into a young life. She spent 4 months a year in Florida taking private golf lessons and she is home-schooled so she can concentrate on golf.
In addition to golf, she took diving lessons at age 4 and became involved in gymnastics and music.
She sports braces and has to stand on a box to get to the microphone to speak to the media. But, beyond that, Li has the golf game to succeed. While she “missed the cut” at the US Women’s Open (a tournament that former prodigy Wie won), it was still a great accomplishment for her to make it.
Li is just another young name to keep an eye on in the future. Hopefully, Li has fun with golf and not get burnt out. While she is being dubbed a prodigy now, recall Wie also had high expectations as well. Li joins a short list of tweeners (pre-teens) that have competed on an elite-pro level.
Update on local America Ninja Warrior
A while back, we told the story of Hoan Do, a local inspirational speaker that was training for NBC’s American Ninja Warrior. The show is a glorified obstacle course, featuring a lot of obstacles that one must master crossfit before attempting.
Do had a great video telling his story and sent in a tape of his ability. NBC accepted and Do was competing to be on the show. Unfortunately, Do may have broken his ankle during one of the finals to see who would be able to be on the televised show. Do is out of the competition, but stated that he would continue to train to be back next year. Good luck on a speedy recovery and getting ready next year.
No-No No. 2 for Lincecum
On June 25th, San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres.
It was his second career no-hitter. He is a former University of Washington baseball player from Kent.
Lincecum is back to his old form having pitched well in his last three games. To celebrate his second no-hitter, in honor of the World Cup, Lincecum donned a US men’s soccer jersey with his name on the back when he celebrated in the locker room. Oh yeah, he also put on a knight helmet for some reason. Why a knight helmet? Why not? Lincecum knows how to celebrate. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.