By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this month’s edition, we highlight a new tennis queen speaking out for justice, a hoops hopeful foregoing college, and Taylor Rapp’s big workout.
Osaka lends support to Black Lives Matter
Naomi Osaka used her platform as one of the most visible stars in women’s tennis to speak out about the George Floyd murder by a Minneapolis police officer, which has sparked outrage and protests across the nation.
“Just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at all,” Osaka wrote on Twitter on May 29. On June 1, she posted a picture of Colin Kaepernick on her Twitter feed when he knelt in silent protest during the national anthem while he was a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers. The picture was in response to an NFL statement by Commissioner Roger Goodell addressing the unfortunate deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and hoping to rectify systemic issues. Osaka showed the contradictory message given by the league as Kaepernick attempted to draw attention to those systemic failures in the criminal justice system which are skewed against the Black community. Osaka, who was born a Haitian man and Japanese woman, points out the error in the NFL’s statement as it ostracized and blackballed Kaepernick from the league.
Osaka reportedly participated in marching against social injustice. She was among several professional athletes that have spoken up in support and have marched in protest across the nation.
It also should be noted that not only is Osaka aware of her social responsibility in standing up for what she believes is right, she is now the highest paid female athlete in the world. According to Forbes, the 22-year-old Osaka surpassed Serena Williams this year, earning $37.4 million based upon her deals with Nike, Nissan Motors, and Procter & Gamble.
Sotto chooses to skip college to train for NBA
Following the example of Jalen Green, 7-foot-2-inch Kai Sotto is forgoing his chance to play college basketball in the United States to play in the NBA’s G League Professional Pathway Program. It is a one-year developmental program that is outside its traditional team structure that compensates elite prospects. The 18-year-old Sotto, who has played for the Filipino National team in international junior tournaments, moved to the United States in 2019 to focus on basketball. He joined The Skill Factory, an advanced training program for the sport based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Under the program, Sotto will be playing with both prospects and veterans but on a reduced schedule than normal players in the developmental league.
Last month, Jalen Green, a high school senior from California, announced that he would forego playing college basketball and enter the NBA G League Professional Pathway Program. Green, whose mother is Filipino, was the first entrant into the program. Green was a consensus 5-star recruit with offers from many of the nation’s biggest college programs.
Sotto averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game in high school. His game has been compared to that of Yao Ming. As a center, his highlights show that he is an agile shot-blocker on defense and a nimble-footed post player on offense.
Sotto’s father and godfather played professional basketball in the Philippines. Unique in stature for a Filipino, Sotto’s father is 6 foot 7 while his mother is 6 feet tall. At 7-foot 2 inches, his dad believes that he is still growing.
Sotto will hope to improve on his game with the hope of being the first Filipino born player to play in the NBA.
Rapp burns 10,000 calories in one day
Los Angeles Rams defensive back and former University of Washington football star Taylor Rapp had a long day of training on May 24. In fact, you can say it was a 10,000 calorie workout.
Rapp, along with friend and current professional baseball player Austin Shenton, took the 10,000-calorie challenge.The challenge was simple: burn 10,000 calories in a single given day. The two brought along their heart rate monitors to ensure they kept an accurate count of the calories. As described by Rapp on social media and to reporters, it appeared that there was not an absolute plan on how to burn 10,000 calories as toward the end, the process of looking at their monitors to see how much more they had left became an exercise in improvisation.
In order to do this, Rapp and Shenton woke up at 4:30 a.m. and their quest ended at 9:09 p.m. They went on a 125-mile bike, hiked for 4 miles, ran for another 3 followed by 1.25 miles of swimming. Notably, Rapp had zero road bike experience and only had a couple rides in prior to the long day of working out. He definitely felt the pain of riding in the saddle for such a long period of time. They rode the first leg of the bike for 103 miles to Samish, and hiked four miles to Samish Overlook.
They then were driven back to Bellingham where they continued their journey to 10,000 calories. After attempting to burn the calories off on a rowing machine, they soon realized that the process would take too long. So they rode around Bellingham for another 20 or so miles but were still 700 calories short of their goal. Rapp and Shenton then attempted to swim to finish off the challenge. However, both experienced pain and cramping. Fortunately, the two pulled themselves through the rest of the challenge shortly after 9 p.m.
“To all my fellow competitive athletes and everyone passionate about fitness, give this challenge,” said Rapp in an Instagram post.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.