Japan Rumors

Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura will miss Japan’s final two FIBA World Cup games because of knee discomfort and general fatigue, it was announced. “While everyone had hoped for Rui to finish the World Cup with Team Japan, the Wizards and Japan Basketball believe it is best for Rui to not play the final two games and have a short period of rest before he must start NBA training camp with the Wizards which begins only three weeks from now,” the Japanese Basketball Association said in a statement released through the Wizards.
1 week ago via ESPN
Storyline: World Cup
It should’ve been a forgettable game, just a formality in pool play. But Jayson Tatum always remembered the big athletic guy on Team Japan. It was four years ago in Dubai, and Tatum was playing for the U.S. team in the under-17 world championships. He had a nice game, leading the team with 19 points as it beat the Japanese by a preposterous 122-38 margin. But of those 38 points, a lanky and fluid young kid named Rui Hachimura scored 25 of them. The Japanese went a woeful 1-6 in the event, but Hachimura was a revelation to Tatum and many who were there. He averaged 22.6 points and 6.6 rebounds, the leading scorer of the tournament.
2 weeks ago via ESPN
This has been a remarkable summer for Hachimura, hinting that he may make a splash when he reports for training camp in D.C. later this month. Two weeks ago, he scored 31 points in front of 18,000 fans at the Saitama Super Arena outside Tokyo as the Japanese, ranked 48th in the world, pulled off an upset against Germany in an exhibition game. To put it in perspective, the Japanese have never beaten a European team in World Cup play. Hachimura’s block on Dennis Schroder of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the closing minutes — OK, it might’ve been goaltending — was a signature moment.
2 weeks ago via ESPN
“Rui is a generational talent for that country, and he will bring enormous attention to the sport,” said Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard, who spent two weeks in Japan and China bonding with his first draft pick as the head of the team’s basketball operations. “He’s going to be a fantastic player for the Wizards in the future. He has the ability to be a factor at both ends of the floor, [has] a solid basketball IQ and is a great teammate.”
2 weeks ago via ESPN
After the camp wrapped up, Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell said that events like Basketball Without Borders are vital to growing the game around the world. “It’s awesome,” Cassell, who has served on Clippers bench boss Doc Rivers’ staff since 2014, told The Japan Times. “This is my first time with the BWB, and to come in here to Japan and see all these talented players. The game of basketball is in good hands, because there’s so much talent around the globe.”
Another benefit of the camp is the impact it will have on the attendees when they compete in their respective nations, according to Cassell, a former point guard who won back-to-back NBA titles with the Houston Rockets (1994 and ’95) and another with the Boston Celtics in 2008. “No doubt about it,” Cassell said. “Now they can tell a kid, like from Australia can tell another kid, that I played with this kid from New Zealand who was awesome. One day he’s going to be a top college player like myself one day, so that is amazing to see. A kid from Australia is telling his friend that I played with this big guy named Amaan, (a 208-cm center), from India who’s a beast out there on the basketball court. That’s amazing. I wish I had that opportunity as a kid to do that — play against someone from different countries.”
The No. 9 overall pick came in with high expectations, especially with an entire nation watching him. There were 61 Japanese media members covering Summer League, mainly featuring Hachimura, Grizzlies two-way player Yuta Watanabe, and free agent hopefuls Yudai Baba (Mavericks) and Makoto Hiejima (Pelicans). Now, his attention turns to the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where Hachimura will lead the Japanese national team ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“I am used to it now, especially after the draft. It was crazy talking English and Japanese back and forth. But I have gotten used to it,” Hachimura told The Undefeated. “One of my jobs is to represent Japan. People want to see me right now. I’m everywhere right now in Japan on TV, newspapers. I am doing it for my country and the little kids watching me.” Seeing a large Japanese media contingent following baseball players in America has been commonplace for a while. Major league baseball stars past and present, from Hideo Nomo to Ichiro Suzuki to Hideki Matsui to Yu Darvish to Shohei Ohtani, have primarily answered questions from the North American media in English through a translator and then in Japanese with their native media. That won’t be the case for Hachimura.
Hachimura will face pressure that’s unlike what most NBA rookies will experience next season. Answering questions separately for the North American and Japanese media will be a daily occurrence for him. He has already landed endorsement deals with Jordan Brand and Nissin Foods, which makes Cup Noodles, and said he has more on the horizon. Meanwhile, the spotlight will be on him later this summer when he suits up for Japan at the World Cup in China. But for this 21-year-old, who grew up in the social media age, all this attention is just part of his world. “It has been like this since I was a kid. It’s not like a big deal for me,” Hachimura said. “I want to be the face of Japanese athletes. That is why I have to do it.”
Over the next three months, Austin’s resolve will be rewarded. He will return to the Dallas-area home that he was finally able to purchase, throwing a big birthday party for Zeke’s turns second birthday. He and Alexa will spend a week together in Jamaica, followed by a five-day family trip to Disney World. As he continues rehabbing his ankle, he will field lucrative offers from several first-tier teams in Japan, and later fly to Las Vegas to work out with a South Korean club. He will take his time with these options, finding confidence that his name has made the Asian basketball map. It is possible, Misuraca estimates, that he could make seven figures somewhere next fall.
As a 7-footer with a smooth jumper and smoother handles, perfect for stretching the floor in today’s game, Austin should have no trouble finding future work. “I got a full CBA season under my belt,” Austin says proudly. “That’s going to be real good for my résumé anywhere in Asia.” Now that he is established, though, it is remarkable to take stock of every obstacle that Austin has overcome so far: the diagnosis, the depression, the shoulder injury that sidelined him from the NBA draft after his freshman year, the blindness in one friggin’ eye.
In Japan, the N.B.A. is not viewed with the same fervor or depth of knowledge as in other Asian countries like the Philippines, where basketball is the No. 1 participation sport. In China, the top N.B.A. market outside the United States, an estimated 300 million people play the sport and 640 million cumulative viewers watched league programming last season. “The Philippines is a beacon for us when we think about the kind of popularity we’d love to see in markets like Japan,” Matt Brabants, the N.B.A.’s senior vice president for global media distribution and business operations, said in a telephone interview. “And we have to work at that.”
Yet, the rules and tactics of basketball are not as widely understood in Japan as in the Philippines and China, said J.R. Henderson, a Californian who played on U.C.L.A.’s 1995 N.C.A.A. championship team and has played professionally in Japan since 2001. “It’s not about the N.B.A.; it’s about basketball,” Henderson said in a telephone interview. “They don’t understand the rules or substitution patterns, why timeouts are called at certain times in a game, how come sometimes the game is fast and why sometimes you slow it down.” Henderson, now 41, played 30 games for the then Vancouver Grizzlies during the 1998-99 N.B.A. season and has become a naturalized Japanese citizen known here as J.R. Sakuragi.
Curry’s summer might have epitomized the marriage between the NBA and foreign lands. He didn’t just go to China. He also hit the Philippines, England, France and Japan. He tossed out the ceremonial first pitch at a Japanese baseball game. He shot around with soccer star Neymar. He watched a Premier League game in England. “One of the best summers that I’ve had,” Curry said.
He spoke to WMC5 about the support from the Japanese community in Memphis and his expectations for the upcoming season. “It means a lot to me… I didn’t know like this huge community in Memphis, so I love their support and you know hopefully I can see them at games,” Watanabe said. “So I think I’m going to spend most of my time in the D-league but hopefully I’m going to get called up by the Grizzlies too but I’m just going to work hard as much as possible and I’m going to enjoy it so I’m really excited about the season.”
Four Japanese basketballers who were sent home from the Asian Games for hiring prostitutes while on a night out in Jakarta have been suspended from playing for one year. Yuko Mitsuya, the head of the Japan Basketball Association, bowed in apology before making the announcement at a Wednesday news conference in Tokyo. “They lacked the sense of pride and responsibility that players in the Japanese delegation should have,” she said.
Russell Westbrook brought smiles to enthusiastic fans’ faces on a festive Tuesday morning in Tokyo. Visiting Japan for the first time, he made a promotional stop at a crowded Nike shop in Harajuku as part of the ongoing Russell Westbrook 2018 Why Not Tour. As he stepped on the stage, with NBA and B. League analyst Chris Sasaki serving simultaneously as master of ceremonies and translator, Westbrook was treated to a rock star’s entrance, not unlike the intro to a concert at a stadium. He made previous promotional stops in Shanghai and Beijing. The Tokyo stop was the final stretch of the summer tour.
The center, who started his NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks and ended with the Los Angeles Lakers, played 15 minutes against the Japan national team Friday, scoring four points, claiming six rebounds and providing a match-high six assists. Sydney, who won 77-57, conceded 19 points in the first half but 38 in the second when Bogut was on the bench. “I was always just trying to ease into it,” Bogut said. “I haven’t played a game since January. “When I played with the Lakers, I wasn’t getting a lot of minutes. It was my first organized hitout in seven months so I just wanted to go as hard as I could in the first half.
Watanabe, who played four years for the Colonials in Foggy Bottom, is now chasing an NBA dream with an entire country’s hope on his shoulders. He is aiming to become just the second Japanese-born player to reach basketball’s pinnacle. It’s a responsibility he carries with pride. “I know there was only one Japanese player who played in the NBA like a long time ago, so he was the only one,” Watanabe said. “If I can make it, I know that’s a really big thing in Japan. That would make young guys come to the U.S. and play basketball in the U.S. I want to be one of the pioneers for younger guys.”
The Orlando Magic will not play outside North America during the 2018-19 preseason or regular season, Magic CEO Alex Martins told the Orlando Sentinel. Months ago, the Magic informed NBA officials that they wanted to play in China or Japan during the preseason in 2018. The Magic still want to go to the Far East in future seasons — and may do so as early as the preseason in 2019.
Because Landen Lucas spent parts of his childhood in Japan where father Richard played pro basketball, he can speak the language fluently. Duran has already fielded offers for him to play in Japan, where he could make nearly $300,000, after taxes, compared to a guaranteed Development League contract of $50,000. Japan could be Plan B, but in these workouts, matched against potential first-round picks such as T.J. Leaf, John Collins and Ivan Rabb, Lucas was not thinking about playing overseas. He wants the NBA.
Some of these players take workouts with the hope of landing on a team’s summer league roster. Others are just warm bodies thrown into 3-on-3 games. “I think we know, we’re aware of it but at the same time it gives us an opportunity to be seen. Beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose,” said Emilio Duran, Lucas’s agent. “We may not be the top prize but the coaches are going to be there regardless. Every time he has an opportunity to show his talent in front of anybody, I think it’s a positive experience for everyone.”
Longtime NBA coach Bob Hill welcomed Yao Ming’s unanimous appointment this week as the Chinese Basketball Association’s new president. In fact, Hill, who has worked as a technical consultant for the Taiwan men’s national team in recent years, hailed the move. “Yao is an iconic figure here in China and rightfully so,” Hill told The Japan Times. “I believe he will be able to open doors for the CBA that have never even been approached throughout the history of the league.”
Yao plans to “sell his stake in the Shanghai Sharks before next season and pursue a reform agenda for the professional league, state media reported,” according to Reuters. What are Hill’s expectations for Yao in his new executive role? “He has the capabilities to upgrade the league like never before,” Hill said of Yao. “I’m confident there will be many, many people rooting for him as he is a quality person as well.”
Speaking at a news conference held on an upper floor of the gigantic Shibuya Hikarie shopping complex, the 27-year-old displayed his energetic character to reporters and TV crews, showing no signs of fatigue or jet lag from his trip to Japan. “Just give me the ball,” Sacre said with a smile, when asked what he could bring to the table for his new team. “Everything else will work itself out.”
The San-en NeoPhoenix, formerly known as the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix, have hammered out a deal to sign former NBA first-round draft pick Josh Childress to a contract, basketball insiders told The Japan Times. An announcement is imminent. The 33-year-old Childress was the No. 6 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He skipped his senior season at Stanford University to enter the draft. As a junior, Childress was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Former NBA and Tokyo Apache head coach Bob Hill recognizes the value of former NBA players and coaches working in the B. League. “If you take a look at many of the better leagues around the world, NBA players and coaches were always a part of their inaugural years,” Hill told Hoop Scoop on Friday. “As the country’s players and coaches grow, then you see the country’s coaches take over the head coaching jobs and in some cases the number of imports are cut back. That’s how Europe has gotten so much better from top to bottom.”
Herb Brown, a longtime NBA coach and international hoop mentor, says there are benefits and drawbacks to having NBA players on overseas teams. “Tough decision,” Brown told Hoop Scoop. “Would depend on the player. If they just wanted another payday before retiring I don’t think it is a good idea. Young players who are on the cusp and are also good teammates and character guys Then I think they can raise the level. No more than two foreigners per team because if you have more they retard the growth of national players.
Eleven National Federations are participating in a workshop on the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 and its bidding process. The national basketball governing bodies of Argentina, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Turkey are attending an informative workshop at the House of Basketball. Over the course of two days (Tuesday-Wednesday 1-2 November), FIBA is presenting the rights and requirements tied into bidding – and eventually hosting – the competition.
Reggie Geary is done as head coach of the Chiba Jets, the NBL Eastern Conference club announced Wednesday. He wasn’t out of work for long. Geary is headed to Nagoya, where he will become the new bench boss for the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins. Geary’s contract with the Jets expired at the end of May. The 41-year-old Geary was head coach of the Jets for the last two seasons, leading the team to a 52-56 record. In the 2014-15 campaign, he guided Chiba to the postseason as a wild-card team with a 34-20 record (fifth place in the East).
On Wednesday, the JBA, one of FIBA’s 214 national federations, was suspended from all FIBA and FIBA Asia-related activities. The length of the ban has not been announced. As a result, all Japan national teams are barred from playing in FIBA-sanctioned competitions, including the women’s national team, which captured its first FIBA Asia title in 43 years in 2013. This could have a profound negative impact on Olympic qualifying and preparation for it.
While Swift attempted to work himself into a productive NBA player, he was nothing more than a backup center. Former Sonics coach Bob Hill, who was then coaching in Japan, gave Swift a lifeline, and for a while he took advantage. “Robert lost like 70 pounds over there,” Hill said. “I was training some players down in Dallas when I told him what I was going to do, and if he wanted to go I would take him [to Japan]. It was an opportunity for him to get back in shape and maybe get back in the NBA again because he was still young.”
Hill said the Knicks and Celtics wanted to bring Swift in for a workout when he returned to the States and then the league lockout occurred, wiping out the NBA summer leagues and postponing league activity for six months. “I guarantee he would have made one of those teams,” Hill said. “He was blocking shots and running the floor and rebounding, getting to the foul line. He was having fun playing basketball again. It was fun to watch. That’s a sad story. The whole story is really sad.”
The Dallas Mavericks have invited point guard Yuki Togashi to their preseason training camp, according to Cloud9, his management company. The announcement was made on Tuesday, and Togashi is scheduled to travel to Dallas on Saturday. Japanese supporters expressed their excitement via Twitter. Exhibit A: “Yuki Togashi was invited (to) the last camp by the Dallas Mavericks!!” tweeted Akira Tokusatsu. “Great! I know it’s really tough but I believe he takes the chance!!”
Bill Cartwright: I really didn’t notice any big distinctions (other than the language barrier) in coaching the players in Japan from the NBA. The Japanese players all want the same things that the non-Japanese players want: playing time. They want to score and they don’t want to be blamed for anything. Probably the biggest difference is Japanese players will rarely show or tell you how they feel. No one is demanding to be traded.
It’s been a long, hard road back from a torn left ACL for Derrick Rose, but after nearly 17 months of patient, “selfish” rehabilitation, the Chicago Bulls point guard is reportedly looking “great” in workouts, comfortably throwing down on lowered rims and on track to return for the Bulls’ first preseason game in October. All that work has left just one more test to complete — one last obstacle that all athletes returning from injury must overcome to prove to everyone, including themselves, that they’re ready to resume full-steam-ahead play. I’m talking, of course, about playing basketball against samurai. Luckily, Rose had the opportunity to do just that last week during a Tokyo stop on his Adidas promotional tour:
Cartwright is the second former NBA head coach to be put in charge of a team in Japan’s professional league. Bob Hill, who coached Cartwright in 1986-87, guided the now-defunct Tokyo Apache during the 2010-11 campaign. Cartwright says he’ll be with Osaka until the end of the season and then decide what he’ll do next. “You never know,” Cartwright said. “If you had told me in January that I would be over here I would have said you are crazy. I am a basketball coach, I know that, so I’ll be coaching somewhere.”
With 12 games in the books since Bill Cartwright took over as the Osaka Evessa’s new head coach, his message at the gym, wherever practices and games are held, has been simple and constant. Cartwright preaches “defense, defense, defense,” Evessa big man Rick Rickert told Hoop Scoop in a recent telephone interview. The Evessa are very much a work in progress, but at 6-6 (entering this weekend) since Cartwright became the second former NBA head coach to lead a bj-league team — ex-Tokyo Apache bench boss Bob Hill was the first — there are some positive signs to build off. After all, the Evessa were in complete disarray throughout most of their first 24 games (19 defeats).
The Japan Basketball Association said Wednesday it has decided to appoint former NBA coach Herb Brown in an advisory role to help revive the fortunes of the women’s national team. Japan’s women failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and last year’s London Games. The 76-year-old Brown is a former head coach of the Detroit Pistons (1976-78) and the brother of 72-year-old Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, the current Southern Methodist University sideline supervisor
Geary had a brief NBA career, that first season with the Cavaliers, followed by one more with the San Antonio Spurs. After playing in the CBA and Europe, the former University of Arizona defensive stopper found his niche in coaching. The 2011-12 bj-league Coach of the Year, Geary will serve as the Eastern Conference’s assistant coach on Sunday at Ariake Colosseum. Tokyo Cinq Reves coach Motofumi Aoki was named the East’s bench boss last month. On Sunday, the bj-league’s seventh annual All-Star Game, is slated to tip off at 5:10 p.m.
How does it feel to be part of Basketball Without Borders? Vladimir Radmanovic: Well, it’s a good feeling to be part of something like this. Every chance I get to participate in things like this, Basketball Without Borders, it’s a good thing. Helping young players develop their game and their skill set, it’s a win-win. What is it like working with Dikembe Mutombo? He has been all over the place and is very well-recognized as an NBA ambassador. I’ve been with him on a couple trips and it’s always a good experience.
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.”
Former Indiana player Lynn Washington was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle marijuana into Japan from the United States. The 33-year-old forward with the Osaka Evessa was arrested for allegedly violating Japan’s Cannabis Control Law, prompting the bj-league to issue a statement Wednesday saying all its players must comply with drug tests by noon Friday. “We will release everything in full,” league commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi said in a statement on the league’s official Website. “We will work hard to restore everyone’s trust.”
Saitama point guard Darin Satoshi Maki, who played for the now-defunct Apache last season, introduced Nakase to Hill while she was visiting Maki and his wife, a longtime friend, in Tokyo before the 2010-11 season began. Nakase then joined Hill’s Apache staff. “As soon as I met Bob, I learned all these different tactics in terms of vocabulary to basketball,” she said. “He would use different words that I had never even heard of in practice, and that’s when I was like, wow; the NBA is a whole new level that I had no idea of in terms of vocabulary, drills, preparation. And when I saw how much work had to be done in order to achieve at the top level that just intrigued me 100 percent.”
Two decades later, Nakase is the first female head coach in Japan’s men’s pro basketball history. She was named the Saitama Broncos sideline supervisor after Dean Murray was relieved of his coaching duties on Nov. 24. Now she wants to begin taking Japanese lessons in order to become an effective communicator on and off the court. “Eight of the players speak Japanese only, and I don’t speak Japanese at all,” the 31-year-old admitted during a Foreign Sportswriters Association of Japan meeting on Monday. Despite having a translator available during games, “I instantly want to talk to one of the players immediately, making a switch or something in the game.” When she replaced Murray, Nakase, a native of Huntington Beach, California, experienced a night that many first-time parents can relate to. “There wasn’t any sleep,” Nakase said, describing her life-changing job opportunity. “The first person I called was my dad and I’m like, ‘Dad, guess what’s happening?’ And he was just as shocked as I was. And I’m like, ‘What do you think.’ His best advice to me was, ‘Natalie, just don’t be afraid to fail.’ ”
Terry said Thursday he was preparing to listen to pitches from Chinese teams to play there if the NBA season was canceled, at least partly because his brother already is playing in that part of the world. “I’m very glad,” Terry said about not being tied to an international team. “I’m not going to lie to you. There was a point when they said the season would be canceled when I started fishing around to see if it was a possibility. “And my brother actually just went to Japan two weeks ago. So that in itself – OK, got some family over there – might be something to look at.”
Or as Abdul-Rauf, who played for the Kyoto Hannaryz the past two seasons told me, “Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of David Stern or ‘big business.’ I believe there are exploitation issues on both sides. But no worries, the goal of the NBA is to make money so there’s too much on the table for them not to have a season, and I think many will agree with that at least.”
Former NBA guard Reggie Geary, known for his feisty defense as a collegiate and pro player, has been named the first coach in Yokohama B-Corsairs history. The bj-league team made the announcement on Wednesday. The B-Corsairs, an expansion team, will play their inaugural season in 2011-12. Yokohama’s regular-season opener is Oct. 8 against the two-time defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix.
Will the former All-American scoring sensation from Louisiana State return to Kyoto? “It’s hard to say,” he said. “You never know what’s in the organization’s mind.” If not Kyoto, will Abdul-Rauf, the No. 3 pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, entertain offers from other bj-league teams, including, possibly, the four new expansion clubs — Shinshu Brave Warriors, Chiba Jets, Yokohama B-Corsairs and Iwate Big Bulls? “Again, you never know what people are thinking,” he blurted out. “You would think based on what you bring to the table that would, but I’ve been in situations where I’ve done extremely well in a country and you don’t even get called back.”
Hill, who mentored David Robinson while winning 62 games with the San Antonio Spurs in 1994-95, also coached in New York, Indiana, Seattle and several countries before joining the Apache this season in Japan’s basketball league, where teams often play three American players at a time. He said Tyler had simply been too young to jump from his junior year at San Diego High School to a different culture. “How can you send an 18-year-old to Israel by himself? First of all, the Israel league is good. There’s no way he was ready, especially if he didn’t have an American coach who could bring him along. I mean, they took him out of high school in his junior year. It was a disaster. He didn’t do well. He’s doing much better here than he did in Israel.”