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2019 NBA Draft: Japanese media is really, REALLY excited about Rui Hachimura playing for the Wizards

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There aren’t many Asian NBA players out there. So Hachimura is getting a lot of media coverage in his native Japan, perhaps more than here in the United States.

Candace Buckner speaks to Japanese media on June 21, 2019
Chase Hughes Twitter

Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has had a hectic couple of days. Like other lottery picks, Hachimura did many interviews and had to travel by train last-minute from New York City to Washington. But unlike most NBA Draft picks who come from the United States, Hachimura is from Toyama, a city about a five-and-a-half hour and 270-mile drive away from Tokyo.

Hachimura is the first Japanese NBA player to be drafted in the first round. In a country that is better known for producing baseball stars than basketball ones, this is the biggest sports news in Japan.

Here are some of the recent stories from Japan covering Hachimura’s news since yesterday. Since I can’t read, write or speak Japanese, I had to use Google Translate to get the gist of basic headlines. So let’s get a quick runthrough.

  • Nikkan Sports — As you may know, Hachimura wears the No. 9 jersey. He has, however, worn No. 23 for Gonzaga and Japan. It appears that Hachimura doesn’t want to wear Michael Jordan’s number since he played for the Wizards from 2001-03 — or at least he respects that fact.
  • Tokyo-np.co.jp — This column appears to be quite complimentary about the growth of basketball in the country as well as Hachimura’s in the USA.
  • Hochi.news — MLB legend Ichiro Suzuki gives his take on Hachimura being the first Japanese player to be drafted in the NBA’s first round. He mentioned that the first person carries a big weight on his shoulders. In this case, it goes to Hachimura.
  • The Answer — No, this site is not a Japanese Allen Iverson shrine as far as I can tell. But the site mentioned that Tommy Sheppard coveted Hachimura for “a couple years.”

Members of the Wizards’ media circuit have also been mobbed by their Japanese counterparts. Candace Buckner of The Washington Post and Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington are just two of the many people in that position!

The Wizards media circuit is always looking for new regulars. So I’m really stoked to see the Japanese media here because Hachimura is drafted and hope they are there throughout the season.