UPDATE: Troy Haliburton of The Washington City Paper reports that Rui Hachimura is working out individually with the Wizards and is reporting to the practice facility regularly, according to a source with direct knowledge of his situation. This corroborates with Head Coach Wes Unseld, Jr.’s points during media availability that Hachimura is working towards a return.
“Rui is progressing daily and comes to the facility regularly. He is working on conditioning and putting in court time - all part of a return to play plan that Wes refers to each time asked.” - A front office source with DIRECT knowledge of Rui’s situation with the Wizards.— Troy Haliburton (@TroyHalibur) October 30, 2021
This is not to say that Haliburton’s report is directly contradicting Mayo’s (the original report is below) regarding Hachimura not being in team activities. But it adds context on what Hachimura is doing at the moment. Bottom line? Hachimura is working out and the Wizards are pleased with his progress. And that’s what matters.
Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura hasn’t been seen at the team practice facility during regular team activities since he reportedly landed in Washington on Oct. 11, according to reporter Quinton Mayo. In addition, Mayo reported that one team source indicated that the subject of his name is “taboo.” There is no timetable for his return to full activities, but the Wizards are also not putting pressure on him to get back immediately. Regardless, it may be a while before he returns.
Said this on Twitch the past week or so:— Quinton Mayo (@RealQuintonMayo) October 24, 2021
Rui Hachimura isn’t currently in game shape — he’s also lost a little bit of weight. Wouldn’t surprise me if he isn’t fully integrated until late November/early December.
He’s doing individual workouts not with team. https://t.co/w64Vz4z3UE
Mayo previously reported that Hachimura took a team-approved leave of absence due to mental health reasons. It should be noted that Hachimura also unfollowed everyone on his Instagram account except for another account he already owns while on his leave.
There is another excerpt that could shed light on Hachimura’s absence. Mayo noted that the Japan men’s national basketball team’s 0-3 showing in the 2020 Olympics could be a contributing factor to his mental health, based on “chatter among the team.” But that said, when Hachimura isn’t around the rest of the players, it’s hard to say what’s going on.
As you know, Hachimura was heavily promoted by the Japanese Olympic Committee, was a flagbearer for his country, had his own brand of ramen and Team Nippon came into the Olympics with momentum.
During friendlies where he played, the Japanese pulled off a big win over Belgium that was also a possible future World Cup preparation game for both sides. And more impressively, the Japanese beat France, the eventual Olympic silver medalists in friendlies. Those were good wins, but most of us knew that it would be difficult for the Japanese to get to the quarterfinals regardless.
There is also another factor that may be behind Hachimura’s mental health: online bullying. According to Aren Hachimura, Rui’s younger brother, he has been the target of anti-black slurs from other Japanese people, since he and Rui are biracial with a Beninese father and Japanese mother. Rui also acknowledged getting bullied almost every day. This article from the Japan Times is from last May when the tweets first were published, but it adds context that there could be multiple reasons besides the Olympics that could affect the third-year forward’s mental state (h/t to Moe Williams for the article link).
While Hachimura is getting back into game shape, the Wizards’ depth has picked up the slack from his absence. Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell have played many of the minutes that he otherwise would have, and both have been among the team’s best performers during their 4-1 start.