Warriors Unveil New Look: Chinese Heritage Uniform

Although I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1999, I only started following the NBA and the Golden State Warriors since they signed Jeremy Lin, and after Lin left – with the rise of Stephen Curry. On a demographic percentage basis, the San Francisco Bay Area probably has the largest Asian and Asian American population for any given NBA market – the 2010 census put’s that figure at 23.3%. And we also know that the NBA is huge in China:

“Under Xi, the government has poured money into investments designed to transform China into a soccer superpower on par with Brazil. Yet the National Basketball Association remains by far China’s most popular sports league. According to one recent study that measured online engagement, the NBA is six times more popular in China than the three largest European soccer leagues combined. During the 2017 NBA Finals, more than 190 million Chinese streamed the games on their mobile devices. By contrast, in the U.S., each Finals game averaged 20.4 million viewers, and an additional 430,000 live-streamers.”

So it’s no surprise that the Golden State Warriors and the NBA try to appeal to these fans, and no surprise again that the Warriors reveal a new Chinese heritage uniform:

The 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors will wear Chinese Heritage alternate uniforms for select games during the 2017-18 season as a nod to the strong Chinese culture in the Bay Area, the team announced today. The Warriors will first wear the Chinese Heritage alternate uniforms at home on Thursday, January 25th vs. Minnesota when the team plays the Timberwolves at home. Chinese Heritage merchandise, including hats, shirts and sweatshirts, is available now at warriors.com and will be available at the Warriors Team Store tonight, while Chinese Heritage alternate jerseys for every player on the roster is available for presale at warriors.com.

The Bay Area has the top three out of five Asian populations in the U.S. (Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose) and the new Chinese Heritage alternate uniform pays tribute to that strong Chinese culture and the prosperity that the region and the Warriors have enjoyed. The Chinese characters for prosperity are proudly placed on the waistline of the shorts as the chest logo combines the Golden Gate Bridge and classic symbolism. The suspension bridge detail, that has appeared on previous Warriors uniform Editions, remains on the shorts. “The Bay,” which appears on the front of the jersey, recognizes the importance of the entire Bay Area to the Warriors organization. In coming seasons, the Warriors will continue to use “The Bay” uniform highlighting a variety of heritages special and unique to the Bay Area.

The Warriors are wearing the Chinese Heritage uniform for the following games:

  • Thursday, January 25th vs. Minnesota
  • Saturday, February 24th vs. Oklahoma City
  • Wednesday, February 28th at Washington
  • Thursday, March 8th vs. San Antonio
  • Saturday, March 17th at Phoenix
  • Monday, March 19th at San Antonio
  • Thursday, March 29th vs. Milwaukee
  • Saturday, March 31st at Sacramento
  • Tuesday, April 3rd at Oklahoma City

I’m wouldn’t be surprised if these are sold in China as well.

2017 – 2018 Golden State Warriors Asian Heritage Night

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve become a fan of the Golden State Warriors when the Warriors first signed on Jeremy Lin back in 2010. And since then, the Warriors have gotten better and better (although Lin has been long gone), including winning the 2017 NBA championship last year. So when I get the opportunity to attend a game on behalf of 8Asians.com, I do!

Back on Monday, December 11th, the Warriors held their annual Asian Heritage Night celebration game against the Portland Trail Blazers, with the Crystal Children’s Choir performing the national anthem and San Jose Taiko providing the half-time entertainment.

To be honest, I had never heard of the Crystal Children’s Choir prior to attending the game:

“Crystal Children’s Choir was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1994. Since then, it has grown into an organization of over one thousand members. Choir members rehearse every week with their respective ages and skill levels in four Bay Area cities – Cupertino, Fremont, Foster City, and San Jose. … We aspire to be cultural ambassadors of children’s choral music, especially in the field of Chinese folk songs and newly commissioned works. Through a unique musical and life-enhancing education offering to its choristers, Crystal Children’s Choir hopes to nurture teamwork, love of music, and excellence in choral singing among younger generations.”

As far as taiko drumming, I’ve definitely seen that before and have heard of San Jose Taiko:

Since 1973, San Jose Taiko has captivated global audiences and critics alike with the powerful sounds of the taiko.

Inspired by traditional Japanese drumming, company performers express the beauty of the human spirit through the voice of the taiko, creating a vibrant, contemporary art form as they strive to connect people through cultural understanding, creative expression, and rhythmic heartbeat.

San Jose Taiko was founded by young Asian Americans searching for an outlet to convey their experiences as third generation Japanese Americans, or Sansei. Looking to Japan for inspiration, they were drawn to the empowering sounds of the taiko – the Japanese drum – an instrument that embodies the spiritual essence and heartbeat of Japan.

As for the game itself, the Golden State Warriors are an exceedingly good team, so I never really had any doubt that the Warriors would win the game against Portland, which they did – even though star players such as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green didn’t play due to injuries.

Top 5 Asian American Athletes

I heart professional sports. I love baseball, basketball, and football. I’m mostly obsessed with my local teams (Dodgers, Lakers, USC, and now Chargers). To prove it, I spend way too much time on fantasy sports. (On a side note, I’m the commissioner of a dynasty football league and we’re looking for a new owner so if interested, hit me up). That’s why when I tried to figure out what I should write about, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done a top five Asian American athletes article for 8Asians before.

Figuring out a top five was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. First, I’ll be honest, the list was going to be a top ten. However, I realized right away that finding ten Asian American athletes I wanted to talk about was going to be a lot harder than I originally thought. Five seemed way more manageable.

Then, I had to decide which sports to include. Because I’m most knowledge about the three major sports in the United States, I decided to limit it to those—so baseball, basketball, and football. This means that I don’t mention the Olympians (Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Anton Ohno, Michelle Kwan, Sammy Lee, and others that I’m probably missing), golfers (Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie), or a tennis star (Michael Chang). My apologies to all of them. They are all amazing athletes and some played formative roles in my life. You can’t find a Japanese American who was around in the 1990s who didn’t swell with pride watching Kristi Yamaguchi in the Olympics or an Asian American kid from the late 80s, who didn’t play tennis because of Michael Chang.

And finally, this list does not include any Asian Asians (in other words, people who were born in Asia and do not consider themselves Asian American). This means that stars such as Hideo Nomo, Chan Ho Park, Yao Ming, Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish or countless others are not eligible.

Because the list was limited to my top five, there were some names I had to leave off. Here are some of the other athletes that I considered for this list that deserve to be mentioned: Major League Baseball players Ron Darling, Don Wakamatsu, Kurt Suzuki, Travis Ishikawa, NBA and Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, and NFL football players Hines Ward, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Polamalu, Rey Maualuga, Edward Wang. Also, it should be mentioned that on principle, I cannot include any San Francisco Giant. So Tim Lincecum is not eligible. Sorry Giant fans—your team sucks this year by the way.

Without further ado, here is my list of top five Asian American athletes.

#5: DAT NGUYEN

Dat was a star linebacker for Texas A&M and played five years for the Dallas Cowboys. He has the tenth most career tackles in Dallas history. He was the first Vietnamese American to play in the NFL.

Why I chose Dat? Despite being a USC Trojans fan, I remember what it meant to me to see Dat Nguyen on the field at Texas and then later Dallas. Everyone said he was too small and slow to play in the NFL, but he never listened to his critics. He took pride in being the baddest linebacker on any field he played on.

#4: KENICHI ZENIMURA

Kenichi is known as the “Father of Japanese American baseball.” Among many accomplishments, he was responsible for bringing Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a barnstorming tour of Japan, which is credited for baseball’s popularity in the country. But most importantly, he was instrumental in creating a baseball league in the Gila Riva Interment camp.

Why did I chose Kenichi? Unlike the other athletes on this list, Kenichi’s role was more of an ambassador than a player. He was the main force behind a Japanese American baseball league in the deserts of an internment camp that made life just a little more bearable and fun for those incarcerated.

#3: WATARU “WAT” MISAKA

Wat was the first non-white player and first Asian American to play in the NBA.

Why did I chose Wat? Despite having only played three games in the NBA, he is a legend in my book. He broke the NBA’s color barrier the same year that Jackie Robinson did it in baseball. But the thing that people forget about Wat, he was actually a hell of a basketball player. At five feet and seven inches, he led his college basketball team to an NCAA championship in 1944.

#2: TIANA BAUL SEAU JR. aka: JUNIOR SEAU

Junior is a hall of fame linebacker who played nineteen years in the NFL for the San Diego Charger, Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots.

Why I chose Junior? Junior was a stud. First round draft pick. Defense player of the year. Multiple Pro-Bowls. Linebacker of the Year. Super Bowl Champion. Hall of famer.  And of course USC alumni. But what I remember about him was the 1994 championship game where he played with a pinched nerve in his neck and somehow still managed to get 16 tackles.

#1 Jeremy Lin

Jeremy is an NBA guard who has played for the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets. He has averaged twelve points and four and a half assists in his career. 

Why I chose Jeremy? This was a rather obvious choice. All I have to say is Linsanity. Most people remember him because of those few weeks in New York. But the reality is that he’s had a very successful career. And frankly, he’s the guy every young Asian American basketball player who has ever played the game wants to be.

Follow me on Twitter at @ksakai1

Brooklyn Nets launch Chinese language web site

The Brooklyn Nets recently launched a Chinese language version of their website – http://www.nba.com/nets/cn – which is not a big surprise given that the NBA’s only Taiwanese American player, Jeremy Lin, plays for the Nets, as reported recently:

“The site appears to mirror the Nets English language web offerings. Also, it’s expected to include features and a community calendar directed at the 200,000 Chinese and Chinese-Americans in Brooklyn —and 850,000 in the New York metropolitan area. The Nets’ HSS Training Center is located across the BQE from Sunset Park, which is becoming Brooklyn’s Chinatown.

The Nets hired a digital content producer early in the season to oversee both the website and its Weibo account, a social media site that combines aspects of Facebook and Twitter.

With Jeremy Lin returning from injury, the site is likely to get a lot of traffic.

This is the second time the Nets have had a Chinese language website. When Yi Jianlian was with the Nets, the team set one up. Once Yi was traded, the site came down.”

To be honest, it’s surprising that the site just launched. The site should have been localized ideally at the beginning of the season …

I don’t know how good Lin’s Chinese reading and writing is, but I bet it’s better than mine …

Space Jam 3 Anime Parody Featuring Jeremy Lin

8A-2016-08-04-JeremyLin-SpaceJam3ParodyWith all kinds of grim videos out there from police shootings to cringe inducing videos about “Neenjas” and Xenophobic videos about Chinese buying American farms, this NigaHiga/Jeremy Lin collaboration really made my day. 

It pulls in some popular Anime characters and even has a quick jab at Pokemon Go! 

Note that Space Jam 2, the actual sequel to Space Jam, starring LeBron James, is said to be under production, with Justin Lin possibly directing.

Linsanity Left off the list of 21st Century Knicks Highlights

8A-2016-07-BrooklinsanityThe New York Post is disgusted that Linsanity has been left off of Madison Square Garden Network’s list of Top 21st Century Knicks Moments.  Lin’s career high 38 points should at least be as good as Iman Shumpert’s career-high 27 points in 2014!

Ironically, Linsanity began with a game against the Knicks’ crosstown rivals, and he is leaving Charlotte to play for the Nets in Brooklyn.

(h/t:  John)

ICYMI: NYTimes: Open Season on Jeremy Lin? In Video, Fan Highlights Hard Fouls

If you read 8Asians.com, you’ve probably already come across a Jeremy Lin fan video highlighting the injustices against opponents flagrantly fouling him titled, Jeremy Lin: Too Flagrant Not to Call and his opponents not getting called a foul. I’ve watched the video, and it’s not pretty.

Jeremy_Lin_fouled

I was surprised that THE New York Times covered the issue and even more surprised by who put the video together:

“Hsiu-Chen Kuei waited until her husband and three sons had gone to bed one night recently before surreptitiously beginning work on an ambitious personal project.

As they slept, Kuei, 48, a stay-at-home mother from San Jose, Calif., hunkered down at her computer and began poring over highlight videos featuring Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin, her favorite N.B.A. player. She fumbled around on Final Cut Pro, a video-editing program, splicing together the specific clips she had sought. She did this for six straight nights, three hours each night.

On April 5, Kuei uploaded her finished product, a six-and-a-half-minute video, to YouTube. She called it “Jeremy Lin: Too Flagrant Not to Call.”Piecing together clips of Lin over the years getting whacked in the face, clotheslined, bleeding, tumbling to the floor — all without ever drawing a flagrant foul — Kuei tried to convey that Lin, an American-born son of immigrants from Taiwan, was the victim of excessive physicality from opponents and insufficient protection from the league and its referees.

To Kuei’s surprise, the video soon attracted close to a million views, capturing the attention of basketball fans around the world and the eye of the league — even if no one quite knew who was behind it.”

The NBA did respond to a fan email regarding the video. Basically, the NBA said that:

Flagrant Foul given the full circumstances, angles and comparables from past games. Referees do make mistakes, which means they miss calls that should have been made. When that occurs, we collect the data and provide referees with feedback to ensure improvement.”

I read the New York Times article online, so I was even more surprised to see the Jeremy Lin article made it to the print edition’s FRONT PAGE! (at least of the National Edition). A friend of mine (h/t to Vitus), sent me this photo of his print edition of the Times, where the article headline is Fan’s Video Calls Foul on How N.B.A. Treats Asian-American:

2016_04_15_NYTimes_Nat_Edition_Jeremy_Lin

I can’t say I watch enough Jeremy Lin these days to make a judgement on the officiating, since I mostly follow my local and awesome team, the Golden State Warriors. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was unconscious bias against Lin on not calling fouls against his opponents. Too bad the Warriors traded Lin a long time ago – would be great if he returned.

 

Varun Ram thrills Indian Americans in NCAA Tournament

varunramWhen the University of Maryland needed a defensive spark in the last seconds of their March Madness opener against Valparaiso, they called up reserve player Varun Ram.  According to the Washington post, Ram’s late game disruption of Valparaiso’s offense caused Indian Americans around the country to take notice.  As I looked into more detail about him, it seemed to me that this 5-9 point guard is really a giant in many ways.

Varun Ram first placed NCAA Division III basketball at Trinity and then transferred to the University of Maryland.  He made the Big Ten Athletic conference team as a walk-on on – truly amazing as only one of five Indian Americans playing Division I ball.  While he only played 57 minutes this year and scored all of his points on free throws, he became a fan favorite because of his hustle. Continue reading “Varun Ram thrills Indian Americans in NCAA Tournament”

Few Asian American Basketball Players at the NCAA D1 Level – Does it Really Matter?

jeremy_linAfter almost 10 years of playing in community, NJB, AAU, and school leagues, Number Two Son dropped out of organized basketball for good this year.  When I saw this article asking why there are very few Asian American division I college basketball players, my experiences with Number Two Son have given me insights why I think that’s the case.  The article says that basketball seems to have “relatively few obvious barriers to entry” and hints at racism being a cause.  While I have little doubt that racism is a factor (e.g. Jeremy Lin’s recruitment), other large and nonobvious barriers do exist.   There are also other important questions to ask – is it really that important to have Asian American players Division I college basketball players?  Is it in fact better that Asian Americans avoid that whole system? Continue reading “Few Asian American Basketball Players at the NCAA D1 Level – Does it Really Matter?”

Asian Canadian Sim Bhullar enters the NBA draft

sim_bhullar_tanveer_bhullar_reach7 foot 5 inch Asian Canadian Sim Bhullar (pictured here on the left next to his brother Tanveer) has decided to put himself into the NBA draft after finishing his sophomore year at New Mexico State.  Bhullar averaged averaged 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in the 2013-2014 season.  He has received some criticism for joining the draft (some saying that he needs to greatly improve his skills), but one writer points out that while he is unlikely to be selected, a big man’s career is short and that he should make money while he can, whether in the NBA’s Developmental League or outside of the US.  His younger brother, 7 foot 3 inch Tanveer shown on the right, also played this past season for New Mexico State.

The New Mexico State Aggies won the 2014 Western Athletic Tournament, with Sim Bhullar winning tournament MVP for the second straight year.  The Aggies lost to San Diego State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  If Bhullar makes it into the NBA, he would be the first NBA player of Indian descent.

 

Jeremy Lin to Represent the Houston Rockets at 2013 NBA Skills Challenge

8A-2013-02-15-AS13-TacoBell

Jeremy Lin will be representing the Houston Rockets at the 2013 Taco Bell Skills Challenge, on Saturday February 16 during NBA All-Star Weekend.  The Taco Bell Skills Challenge is a timed course where contestants have to dribble, pass, and shoot to get past different obstacles.  There are six contestants:

  • Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs (defending champion)
  • Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers
  • Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets
  • Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons
  • Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks

A local teen will be paired with each player, and the contest will generate $55,000 in education scholarships awarded through the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens.

Young, Deaf, Samoan and Bballin’ Down the Court

After Number Two Son played in a basketball tournament that had a team from California School for the Deaf (CSD), I was immediately intrigued when I saw this video by Tama Irie from Silicon Valley De-Bug.  The video features Easter Fa’afiti,  a deaf Samoan American who played basketball at Gallaudet University.  Asian American Pacific Islanders often talk about having to deal with different worlds, but Fa’afiti has one more world than most to deal with.  I found it interesting for a number of reasons.

Continue reading “Young, Deaf, Samoan and Bballin’ Down the Court”