By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this month’s edition, learn about the Huskies heading to China, the rebirth of Jeremy Lin in Charlotte, Ichiro returning for at least one more season, and Manny Pacquiao’s last fight.
New team, new ’do for Lin
Since it is November, the NBA is back and Jeremy Lin is on a new team. Lin signed a new deal with the Charlotte Hornets as he headed east after a brief stint with the Lakers. Things started off sort of rocky, as he was not allowed to enter the arena for a practice because security did not know he actually played on the team. With his Hornet teammates, Lin played the Los Angeles Clippers in an exhibition game last month in China. Even though Linsanity has died down in America, the popularity for Lin is still high. Lin did not disappoint, as he put on a great performance for the fans. In an interview, Lin said that when he makes trips to China (something he does several times a year for business), he has a personal bodyguard with him at all times. When he makes an appearance in China, he has a team of security.
Basketball is popular in China. One could point to Yao Ming playing in the NBA in the early 2000s. The NBA has four offices in China with 140 employees.
In addition to his new team, Lin has a new hairdo – tall Mohawk. He must use a lot of hairspray and gel when he’s on the court. Off the court, photos show that without the hairspray and gel, his haircut resembles more of a “bowl cut.”
Huskies head to China
The University of Washington men’s basketball team is starting its season 5,700 miles away from Seattle as it plays the University of Texas Longhorns in China. It will be the first time that any U.S. college or professional sports team has played a regular season game in the country. The “Pac-12 China Game” is part of the Pac-12 Conference’s global initiative to expand its footprint. As a member of the conference, the Huskies will be the first team to play in the game.
In preparation for the game, the Huskies players have taken language classes as well as learning about the culture and commerce of the country. The educational and cultural opportunity for this trip outweigh the actual game. University of Washington professor Shawn Wong and former Washington governor and ambassador to China Gary Locke have aided the Husky players in getting ready for the trip.
Aside from the game, both teams will visit cultural sites in China as well as the headquarters for Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The teams will get a day-long educational program about the country’s e-commerce industry and consumer buying habits, which will be among the things that the players will learn. Recently, Alibaba created a sports division and the Husky game will be streamed through its various platforms.
The teams play Friday night (here in the United States, morning in China) on Nov. 13 in Shanghai at the Mercedes Benz Arena. It will be televised on ESPN.
Ichiro returns as milestone looms
As baseball ended with the Kansas City Royals wining the World Series, former Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki is returning for a 16th year in the major leagues at the age of 42.
Ichiro is nearing the milestone of 3,000 hits in the major leagues. The Miami Marlins have picked up Ichiro for another year. The Marlins like him so much that they allowed him to pitch on the last day of the season.
Although Ichiro’s natural position is the outfield, he has always wanted to pitch. Ichiro has an 88 mph fast ball and a nice slider. He pitched one inning, giving up one run and two hits. Still, it was a dream come true for the future Hall of Famer.
Pacquiao says April is last fight
Another athlete that is nearing the end of his career is Manny Pacquiao. After his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May, which set records for attendance gate revenue and pay-per-view buys, Pacquiao took time off to heal an injured shoulder. In late October, he announced that he would fight one more time in April 2016 and focus on his political career. Pacquiao is seeking a senate seat and his retirement likely means that he will devote all his time to politics.
In boxing, announcing a retirement does not necessarily stick. However, the 36-year-old Pacquiao has lost a step as with all aging boxers. He no longer is the dynamic, knockout artist that he once was. If he does retire, he will leave a great legacy and much adoration from Filipino fans. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.