Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on December 2010
How did you end up in Japan?
Long story with many twist and turns. Short version… kinda. I have always been connected to Japan in one way or another. My first grade elementary school teacher, Ms. Takata, gave me my first taste of sushi and taught me how to use chopsticks. My junior high coach, Alan Tokunaga, led us to second place in Northern California. During high school, I played against the All-Japan High School team, which was touring California… With all these connections, the fact that I am now a former Japan national team player, hold Japanese citizenship and call Tokyo my home really does not seem all that surprising.
Tell us about your playing days.
Following graduation from Santa Clara University, I was invited to the Seattle SuperSonics rookie camp and then remained with them through the Northwest and Los Angeles Summer Leagues… It was a great ride, but I felt my basketball career was not in Seattle and decided to follow my dream to Istanbul playing for Galatasaray before shifting my career to Japan.
What are you up to now?
Although connected to NBA Japan on some level since 2005, late in 2009 I began talking with NBA Asia about opportunities to help rebuild the NBA brand here. In April, I became director of business development and basketball programs at the Tokyo office. Most of my time is spent meeting with partners and introducing the NBA to companies that we know will benefit from the association with one of the most recognized sporting brands in the world.
When—if ever—will we see the first NBA star from Japan?
Yuta Tabuse [who played briefly with the Phoenix Suns in 2004] has already laid the groundwork for Japanese basketball players to be accepted into the NBA. His dedication should be a model to the new generation that are now pursuing their NBA dream. Anything is possible, but I would say we are five to ten years away from seeing a Japanese impact player in the NBA. That being said, we cannot forget about the women. The WNBA hosts the world’s top female players, and we have seen that Japanese women can compete at a very high level. I know we will see at least one player in the WNBA very soon, with more to follow.
How hard is it for you to find clothes that fit over here?
Actually, I have stopped looking. It’s a good thing I have a Converse connection for cool kicks and the internet for online big-and-tall shopping. With a size 15-16 shoe and being close to 6’9” tall, it is difficult anywhere, but the Japanese fashions, while very cool, just weren’t made with my frame in mind.