By Jason J. Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, we write about the “last” fight for Manny Pacquiao, whether NBA refs respect Jeremy Lin, and Benson Henderson making a big career move.
Pacquiao defeats Bradley for the second time
Manny Pacquiao defeated Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas on April 10 by unanimous decision in what was announced as his last match. Pacquiao indicated that he would dedicate his time to running for public office in the Philippines.
Pacquiao knocked down Bradley twice during his fight. He looked much better than his last time out against Floyd Mayweather. You might recall that Pacquiao was hampered by a shoulder injury and after the showdown with Mayweather, he took an extended amount of time off to recover.
This fight was marred by comments he made about same sex marriages. Pacquiao does not believe them to be right.
This likely hurt ticket sales for this fight. Nike dropped its long-time athlete after the controversial statements. HBO, the network which put on the pay-per-view event, sent a release which disassociated itself from Pacquiao. It was clear that the once, “do-no-wrong” Filipino favorite was a polarizing figure. The fanfare for his final fight was little and he was not promoted as much by HBO. His usual appearances to hype the fight were non-existent.
Still, if you can detach your social views for one night and focus on the boxing, Manny Pacquiao evoked memories of the mid-to-late 2000s at the height of his dominance. Bradley had beaten Pacquiao in their first encounter four years ago in a controversial decision. Pacquiao gained his revenge in 2014 with a unanimous decision over Bradley. This time around, after a shaky start, Pacquiao knocked down Bradley twice.
Will Pacquiao ever fight again? If that was it, he ended his career at 58 wins, six losses, and two draws. He earned at least $20 million from this fight. Knowing that most boxers usually come back for a curtain call, we might consider his boxing career in a holding pattern. Notably, Floyd Mayweather, who retired last September is already thinking of returning. At 37 years old, Pacquiao has contemplated fighting for the Philippines in the Olympics this summer if the rules allow professional fighters to participate. So, while he has “retired,” I would not consider it a real goodbye.
But, if this were to wrap up his career, it was an unfortunate way to end. As a young fighter, Pacquiao was a known partier who enjoyed many things while succeeding in the ring. One would have thought his extracurricular activities would spell his doom. In the end, his controversial comments were his downfall. After finding religion, Pacquiao’s views on the world were shared to the public. Perhaps, he should have kept them to himself if he wanted to keep his sponsors and broad appeal. While many still adore Pacquiao for what he has accomplished in life and through boxing, it’s been weighed against a close-minded view on the world.
Is Jeremy Lin not getting foul calls because he is Asian?
Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin has been the target of hard fouls by others in the NBA, but referees are not calling flagrant fouls, according to a Lin fan. A video made by a Lin fan chronicled the fouls and compared them to flagrant fouls called by referees on other players. The fan, Hsieu-Chen Kuei, a 48-year-old stay-at-home mother from San Jose, indicated that Lin’s “health and safety are at risk, as Lin gets hit unnecessarily and excessively in the face, head, and neck areas by other players frequently.” The video went viral and caught so much popularity that Lin commented on the video.
He thanked the efforts of Kuei and while he did not overtly endorse the video, he was glad it’s been brought to the NBA’s attention. The NBA even responded with an official statement saying that it had found no data that suggests Jeremy Lin is disadvantaged. It also provided data of its own stating that while Lin had ranked 21st among all players in the number of drives to the basket and not drawn a flagrant foul, others with more attempts have not either.
While we can see Kuei’s point of view, it’s clear she is a Lin fan (she lives where Lin was born and raised) and objectivity may be at question. Still, we are Lin fans as well. The under-the-radar issue which no one likes to talk about is race. Despite the craze of Linsanity, Lin still does not “look” like an NBA player by many that do not follow the sport. Sure, we might discount this year’s crazy hairstyle, but Lin recognizes who he is and the type of role he plays for Asian Americans. He spoke out about Chris Rock’s joke about Asians at the Oscars. Ironically, many African Americans were seeking to boycott the award show because of racism. Yet, Rock proclaimed the joke acceptable and Lin spoke out about being “tired of it being ‘cool’ and ‘ok’ to bash Asians.” One might infer that Lin had thought about the unfairness of being fouled hard, yet no repercussions from the referees. Even though race was never called out by Lin, it would seem to be an issue in a league that is predominantly Black and white.
While some NBA players may claim that Lin dramatizes his fouls to attempt to get a call, the video is proof that he is being hit hard and that referees should blow the whistle. Lin has played through it all and his fans will go to great lengths to support him.
Benson Henderson’s next career
MMA fighter and Federal Way native Benson Henderson has decided that he is going to retire and has a plan for his future. Henderson plans to enlist in the military. The 32-year-old fighter recently left the UFC to fight with rival organization, Viacom-owned Bellator. Henderson indicated that he would like to retire at the age of 33. He turns 33 this November.
Henderson believes in performing his civic duty and has had a dream of being in the military. The former Decatur High School wrestling standout did not fare well in his Bellator debut as he lost to Andrey Koreshkov last month.
Hopefully, Henderson will be able to earn a couple more wins before he decides to leave the sport.
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.