Even though Filipino and Filipino Americans are known to really love basketball, I was still surprised when ESPN/ABC commentator Jalen Rose pulled out a Filipino broom during the Milwaukee Bucks/Miami Heat pregame show this weekend and said “Walis!” Walis refers to a broom in Tagalog (there are different kinds), and as shown in the video above from Sports Update PH, he has a history of bringing one out when he things a team will get “swept” in a playoff series from as far back as 2013.
I couldn’t find out why he picked a Filipino reference to brooms, but as I mentioned above, Filipinos love basketball. Books such as Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball and Playing with the Big Boys: Basketball, American Imperialism, and Subaltern Discourse in the Philippines. The Golden State Warriors have a Filipino Heritage Night every year, and they also sell shirts combining their logo and the Filipino Flag. I have coached a lot of Filipino kids in basketball, and there are a lot Filipinos in pick up games and leagues.
Jalen Rose does get things wrong some times. There are two types of walis, a walis ting-ting and a walis tambo (I have pictured both in the post), and he will occasionally mention the wrong one or both. He also got it wrong with the Heat/Bucks game – the Bucks were not swept despite losing their star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Coincidentally, the Miami Heat’s coach is half Filipino. Rose did get some positive responses, such as this tweet from half Filipino NBA player Jordan Clarkson and this one from Filipino American ESPN personality Pablo Torre. Whether Jalen Rose is wrong or not, I like hearing Filipino references on U.S. national broadcast television.