By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill.
Jordan Clarkson wins 6th Man Award
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson capped off a breakthrough year by winning the NBA’s 6th Man of the Year award. Clarkson was surprised when the award was presented by fellow teammate Joe Ingles during an interview on national television.
Clarkson’s NBA career changed course once he joined the Utah Jazz last season. He was a vital part of the Jazz’s success this year as he provided instant scoring off the bench. In Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, Clarkson came off the bench to spark the team to a win. His 24 points in 21 minutes exemplified his importance as a key reserve coming off the bench.
The Jazz defeated the Grizzlies to move on to the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
Clarkson, whose mother is Filipino, delivered an online clinic to members of the Jr. NBA program in the Philippines. Clarkson, along with Jalen Green who plays in the G-League (the NBA’s developmental league), were the featured guests.
‘Not the right minority’
Former NFL offensive lineman and assistant coach Eugene Chung was told he was “not the right minority” when he interviewed for an NFL coaching job this past offseason.
Chung, who is Korean, was told by an NFL executive that he was “really not a minority,” and “not the right minority that [the team] was looking for.” Chung did not identify the team but was stunned to hear such a comment.
The NFL introduced the “Rooney Rule” in 2003 after the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dan Rooney, who was in charge of the league’s diversity committee. The rule requires league teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs. While the policy has seen success, Chung’s story seems to show that some teams do not understand the rule.
Chung noted that the statement made to him was not made with malicious intent, but as a ‘matter of fact’ which would indicate that the interviewer did not even realize the irony in saying that a ‘minority’ was the wrong one when hiring. It would also seem to indicate to the interviewer that there was a limit on the number of minorities that a team could hire at one time.
A former assistant coach, Chung played in the NFL after he was drafted out of Virginia Tech. He served as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.
Chung did praise the NFL for its mentorship and stated that there are great coaches that embrace the differences. He added, “It’s just when the Asians don’t fit the narrative, that’s where my stomach churns a little bit.” The experience, which he shared during a webinar put on by the Boston Globe about Asian Americans in sports, reveals the obstacles faced by many in the industry.
Despite ongoing issues, Tokyo Olympics still an issue
The Summer Olympics are scheduled to go forward next month. However, the COVID-19 pandemic casts a concerning cloud on how the events will take place. About 10,000 volunteers scheduled to work at the Tokyo Olympics have dropped out for various reasons, although many cite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Japan is battling a fourth wave of COVID-19, yet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee insist that the event will happen. Tokyo 2020 was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.
Several prefectures in Japan are still in a state of emergency due to the pandemic.
Fortunately, the number of infected people nationwide are starting to decline. Yet, the influx of athletes from all over the world may be of concern for a country that has more than 13,000 deaths related to COVID-19. In comparison, the United States has nearly 600,000 deaths.
Caution is the overarching theme with the Olympics almost a month away. Large international mass gatherings are still neither safe nor secure, according to some medical opinions. A public survey showed that 80% of the Japanese people were in favor of another postponement or canceling the Olympics.
Kaori Yamaguchi, a former Olympian and a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee, indicated that Tokyo has been “cornered” into holding the Olympics and the IOC, the Japanese government, and local organizers are ignoring widespread opposition to the Olympics by the country. The former bronze medalist in Judo and current university professor cites the fact that Japan will hold the Olympics because it has already spent $15.4 billion.
As a precautionary measure, only athletes, coaches, media, officials, and athletic representatives will be able to travel from overseas, so family and friends of athletes will not be able to attend. Moreover, the Olympic planning committee has yet to make a final call on whether local spectators may attend events.
Unlike the U.S., Japan is lagging in its vaccination efforts—only 5% of the population had been vaccinated by mid-May. Vaccine developers have donated doses to inoculate athletes and officials preparing for the Olympics.
The IOC hopes to get 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from over 200 countries and territories to the Olympics and sequester them in a ‘bubble’ at the Olympic Village, and then have them leave the country two days after the completion of their event.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.