By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This time, we take a look at those participating in the Summer Olympics, Jeremy Lin playing for another team, and Manny Pacquiao’s retirement from boxing being over.
The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is upon us and there are several United States athletes to keep an eye on during the Games this August.
First is swimmer Nathan Adrian. The Cal-Berkeley grad from Bremerton, Wash. will once again be one to watch in the pool. Adrian won two gold medals and a silver at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
In August 2012, Adrian returned to Bremerton to a hero’s welcome and even had a street named after him.
In lead-up to his anticipated return to the Olympics, Adrian appeared in ESPN The Magazine’s annual “Body Issue.” The issue photographs athletes in the nude. Of course, the camera does not reveal everything. Adrian admits in an interview that posing without any clothes for ESPN The Magazine made him more anxious than actually competing.
Adrian’s mother is a native of Hong Kong.
Massialas is the number one ranked male foil fencer in the world. Massialas’ mother is Taiwanese and his father is Greek. The Stanford University student was the youngest male member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. He’ll be one of the favorites to win a medal in male fencing.
Massialas comes from an accomplished fencing family, as his father was a three-time Olympic fencer and his younger sister was the first U.S. fencer to ever win a Youth Olympic Games gold medal.
Not only is Massialas an accomplished fencer, he is studying mechanical engineering and can speak Mandarin. He attended the Chinese American International School as a child.
Meinhardt is also Taiwanese American and the Massialas family knows the Meinhardts. In fact, it was Massialas’ mother that suggested to Meinhardt’s mother that Gerek try fencing.
Meinhardt has an MBA from Notre Dame and works as a consultant at Deloitte.
Another fencer, Lee Kiefer, is ranked third in women’s foil in the world. The Filipino American is the first athlete to ever win seven consecutive individual titles at the Pan American Championships.
Similar to Massialas, fencing is in the family. Her mother was a fencing captain at Duke. She also has a sister and brother that compete.
Kiefer is a senior pre-med major at the University of Notre Dame.
An Olympic taekwondo competitor, Paige McPherson is Filipino and African American. She won a bronze medal in London at the 2012 Olympics and looks to hit the medal stand once again. McPherson grew up in Sturgis, S.D., but attended Miami-Dade College and trains in Miami, Fla.
Lia Neal will be in the pool for Team USA as a swimmer on the 4 by 100-meter freestyle relay team. Neal attends Stanford University and is of African American and Chinese American descent. She is one of two African American swimmers for the United States, a first for the Olympic team.
Another swimmer for Team USA, Jay Litherland, will be competing in the 400-meter individual medley. Litherland, a business major at the University of Georgia, has triple citizenship. He’s an American citizen and a citizen of Japan and New Zealand. He can speak Japanese. This will be Litherland’s first Olympic games.
Micah Christenson, Kawika Shoji, and Erik Shoji
The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team has three Asian Americans on the squad. Micah Christenson, a native of Hawaii, played for the University of Southern California. He currently plays volleyball for an Italian club. At 6 foot 6, Christenson comes from an athletic family. His father played college basketball at University of Hawaii at Hilo and his mother played volleyball there, too. His sister plays volleyball at Southern Utah University.
Erik and Kawika Shoji are also from Honolulu. The brothers played at Stanford University. Their father coached women’s volleyball and their mother played college basketball at the University of Hawaii. Erik plays volleyball for a club in Germany, while Kawika plays in Turkey.
Lin returns to the Big Apple
Jeremy Lin has returned to New York. However, he is returning to play for the Brooklyn Nets next season. Lin, who played for the Charlotte Bobcats last year, turned his on-court success into another lucrative contract. Last year, Lin made $2.1 million dollars in Charlotte. He turned that into a contract that will pay him $11.5 million for next season.
This will be the sixth NBA team the 27-year-old has joined in six years. The Nets deal is very good for Lin, although the Bobcats were a young team on the rise, while Brooklyn is rebuilding. Lin does not want to relive the New York Knick days of “Linsanity,” a return to the area that made him a superstar might evoke the great play he had as a member of the Knicks. Since leaving New York, he has had modest success with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Charlotte Bobcats.
Manny Pacquiao returns to ring in November
Sometimes you can’t get rid of an itch. Despite announcing his retirement this past spring, Manny Pacquiao intends to return to the ring on Nov. 5. No opponent has been announced, although we know the fight will take place in Las Vegas. It’s no surprise that Pacquiao’s short-lived retirement has ended. Pacquiao ousted Timothy Bradley this past May and looked good. Although it was billed as his last fight, there was rampant speculation that his retirement would not last long. It appears that everyone was correct.
While Pacquiao has stated that he was going to turn his attention to politics, the allure of the ring and a huge payday is hard to turn down.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.