HoopsHype Yuta Tabuse rumors
Former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo is doing his bit to help basketball continue to grow internationally. Appointed as the NBA's global ambassador in 2009, Mutombo is in Japan to conduct basketball clinics with the Basketball Without Borders program. The four-day camp in Japan is attended by the top 50 young basketball players from 18 Asian countries. Samuel Dalembert of the Houston Rockets, Vladimir Radmanovic of the Atlanta Hawks, Corey Brewer of the Denver Nuggets and former NBA player Yuta Tabuse of Japan also are taking part in the clinics. "We bring our knowledge of the game and pass it on to young people," Mutombo said. "I am proud to say that there are now about 200 or 250 young men who took part in Basketball Without Borders who are now playing in American high schools and colleges." ESPN.com
The deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11 sent several former NBA players packing from the country. The ex-NBA players included Richie Frahm, Robert Swift, Charles O’Bannon, Kenny Satterfield, Jerald Honeycutt, Japan native Yuta Tabuse and J.R. Sakuragi (formerly J.R. Henderson). NBA draft prospect Jeremy Tyler has also returned home. About the only ex-NBA player still playing there right now is Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf for Kyoto Hannaryz. Yahoo! Sports
Although he's spent the past two seasons in the JBL, after a three-season run in the D-League trying to stay on the NBA's radar, Tabuse's agents Ian Rubel and Marc Cornstein managed to secure an NBA out clause in his Brex contract, just in case Tabuse is the one who's proven right. Just in case the New York Knicks, as Tabuse keeps believing, will keep him in their thinking somewhere as long as Mike D'Antoni is coaching them. "True point guards are one of the most valuable commodities in the sport," Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. "And Yuta has NBA experience. Those kinds of players are always in the mix." ESPN.com
And now Tabuse is back to give the cause its Japanese voice. He took NBA interest in his homeland to unseen levels when he unexpectedly made the Phoenix Suns' roster as Japan's first-ever NBA player in the 2004-05 season and just returned to the States in hopes of using his NBA and Nike connections to raise awareness of Japan's plight. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound point guard, who turned 30 in October, arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night and hopes to connect with former teammates such as Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. The plan? Arrange a charity game to raise emergency funds and/or bring NBA players to Japan as soon as possible for youth clinics. ESPN.com
Tabuse only appeared in four games with the Suns in '04-05, for a whopping total of 17 minutes, but he's been a known quantity to NBA personnel folks for years, even before he was out of high school. When Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey was coaching Japan's national team in the mid-1990s, Casey let Tabuse play in some of the exhibition games leading up to the 1998 FIBA World Championships, cementing Tabuse's rock-star status at home. The little speedster's celebrity is such that he appeared on the cover of the Japanese edition of EA Sports' "NBA Live" video game in 2006, despite the fact that he was waived in training camp by the Los Angeles Clippers in the fall of 2005 and didn't play at all in the NBA in the preceding season. "He's the Ichiro of Japanese basketball," Casey says. ESPN.com
From now on, Tabuse will be playing for his flag more than ever. Whether he's with Link Tochigi or the national team or on NBA summer-league duty somewhere trying to keep that lifelong dream alive, Tabuse will also be playing for the visibility he can bring to Japan's crisis, which has left more than 25,000 people either missing or dead … and has turned the Brex Arena Utsunomiya into a shelter for those displaced by the radiation scare. "The earthquakes are still coming, two times or three times a day," Tabuse said earlier this week. "So we're worried about the earthquakes and the radioactivity. But we [will] try to overcome this. We try to overcome the disaster. "If I keep challenging to make [the] NBA, it's [encouragement] for the Japanese people. Of course I want to play for myself, but I want [to] encourage the victims. I want to play for the Japanese people, especially for the kids." ESPN.com
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