By Jason J. Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of the Layup Drill. Remember when we had an NBA team? I wonder what it’s up to nowadays. Among this month’s subjects, we talk Pac-Man, ping pong, guns, a spelling bee champ, and Long Ding.
Rough times for Manny Pacquiao?
No one could have seen this one coming. After watching the rejuvenated Manny Pacquiao dominate Timothy Bradley over 12 rounds, it seemed certain Pacquiao would clinch the win last Saturday night. But, the judges decided otherwise. In one of the worst decisions in recent memory, Bradley scored an unlikely upset over the heavily favored Pacquiao.
Before the fight, many speculated Pacquiao had lost his focus due to personal problems. He sued his former accounting firm Vision Qwest, alleging that it made numerous errors on his tax returns. VisionQwest sued Pacquiao last year for unpaid accounting bills.
This would not be the first time personal problems interfered with Pacquiao’s fight. Pacquiao was distracted during his last fight in November due to marital issues, reports The LA Times. According to Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, Pacquiao was served with divorce papers on the eve of the fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Bad timing, you think?
Pacquiao has since reconciled with his wife and sworn off many of the vices that caused the problems, including cockfighting, gambling, and late night parties. He also found religion, and claims that he is closer to God. Instead of hanging out with his entourage at night, he now conducts nightly Bible studies.
His newfound devotion to God has not come without some controversy. In an interview, Pacquiao opposed President Barack Obama’s views on gay marriage, citing that he is against it based on his religious beliefs. Other media outlets picked up on the story, but misconstrued Pacquiao’s views on homosexuals.
The story caused a stir among gay marriage supporters who called for Nike to drop Pacquiao as an endorser. He was also banned from The Grove, a shopping mall in Los Angeles, despite a scheduled interview with television show, “Extra,” at the location. Pacquiao clarified his position on the subject saying he is against gay marriage based on the Bible.
Seeking an opportunity to win some fans, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. released a statement that he was in support of gay marriage and President Obama’s stance on the subject.
With the world watching Pacquiao’s every move, it seems the media finds more and more issues with one of the most popular boxers in the world. Maybe we should return to a time when we were impressed with Pacquiao’s work in the ring instead of his outside activities.
It seems with his global fame, he is being pulled in many directions and it’s taking his focus away from fighting. It’s great that he’s trying to do good things for the people he represents and that he’s found spiritual direction. Yet part of me yearns for the Manny Pacquiao of the early 2000s.
But as his boxing career nears an end, will we ever see the carefree, ferocity of his youth? Despite always winning, he has been less impressive in each fight. For many of us who have enjoyed Pacquiao’s fighting over the years, it would be nice to see him finish off his career with some strong KOs and a victory over Mayweather. Let’s hope that this happens sooner than later.
Google project manager is Top Shot
For those against guns, skip this paragraph.
Those familiar with guns probably know the name Chris Cheng. If not, you can Google him and he’d appreciate it. Cheng, an IT project manager for Google, won recently in the History Channel Reality Show, “Top Shot.” Think, “Top Chef,” but with guns. Cheng beat out 17 others, including former military and amateur sharpshooters, and won $100,000 and a professional marksman contract.
Over the course of the season, contestants used a variety of weapons, including historical firearms, handguns, rifles, longbows, a cannon, and even a grenade launcher. Despite having a desk job, the San Francisco native showed everyone that he could compete with the best.
Drifting with Joon Maeng
We don’t talk about drift racing at all, but props go out to Lucas Oil-sponsored driver Joon Maeng for his appearance in a national commercial for the company. Maeng, a 29-year-old Korean American from Cerritos, Calif., is a rising motorsports star. Drift racing is a race technique where the driver intentionally oversteers his car, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels, while controlling the drift on the track. It seems really dangerous, but Maeng does it voluntarily.
Oh no, Cho!
When we last reported on Rich Cho, he was dismissed by the Portland TrailBlazers after just one year as general manager. At the time, Cho became the first Asian American general manager in the NBA.
The TrailBlazers gave him just one year to turn around a franchise that had deteriorated over several years. Despite his dismissal, Cho landed on his feet this past season as general manager for Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats.
Well, it sounded good at the time, but the Bobcats played like kittens this year, setting a record for the worst winning percentage in the NBA ever. That’s right, ever — something not to put on a resume. Not only that, but the team lost out on receiving this year’s number one draft pick. Usually the worst team has the best chance of winning the NBA’s “lottery,” but the New Orleans Hornets received the top draft pick.
In the nationally televised drawing, Cho looked dejected after not receiving the top pick. Let’s hope Jordan gives him more than one year to turn the franchise around.
Teenager makes ping pong Olympic team
Ariel Hsing is not your typical 16-year-old. The Chinese American has played ping pong with Warren Buffet and has secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic table tennis team. Hsing has known Buffet since she was 9 years old, and she refers to him as “Uncle Warren.”
The two have also played a few games together. Note that they are not related, though I suspect that those who have invested based on Buffet’s advice call him “Uncle Warren,” too.
For Hsing, meeting one of the richest men in the world gave her a glimpse into a future career. “I think business sounds really fun,” Hsing told CBS News. Good luck to Hsing this summer. Table tennis is a fast-paced, athletic game, which demands a lot of concentration — much like the world of business.
Spelling Bee champ crowned
That’s the word 14-year-old Snigdha Nandipati of San Diego, Calif. spelled to win the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Nandipati, who won $40,000 in cash and additional prizes for her victory, became the fifth Indian American in a row to win the national competition. Her father started entering Nandipati in spelling bees in the third grade, when he discovered her knack for spelling.
With the advent of technology, spelling has become a lost art, with many people relying on spellcheck or abbreviating words on Twitter. Also, there’s added pressure since part of the competition is aired on ESPN. Really? People will watch anything nowadays. Congrats to Nandipati. And if you’re curious, guetapens is a French-derived word meaning “ambush” or “trap.”
The NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars signed placekicker Long Ding out of Norwich University. Ding, a Chinese national, will compete for a starting job in the NFL this fall. Though his chances of making the team is a long shot, if he were to make the club, he would have one of the best names in the game.
Prince Felix the grappler
Another shout out to 6-year-old grappler Felix Chang of Falls Church, Va. When we last left the young wrestler, he had won a local competition. This time around, he won the Maryland State Wrestling Championship in the 6-year-old heavyweight division. Congratulations, Chang! But is there a real need to have a ‘heavy’ weight division for 6-year-olds? (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.