The Layup Drill — Lin switching teams, golf, poker tweeting, the Olympics, and more

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

http://www.nwasianweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/31_30/sports.jpgWelcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This time, we take a look at where Jeremy Lin is heading, the highest paid athletes in sports, a poker player trying to get paid, golfers, and a pre-Olympics look at the athletes participating in London.

Lin cashes in with Houston

Jeremy Lin will not be sleeping on a couch anymore. He is now a Houston Rocket. Lin could follow in Yao Ming’s footsteps as a very popular player to the local Asian American community in Houston.

His performance with the New York Knicks last year caused a bidding war for his services. At the end of this past NBA season, Lin became a restricted free agent, which meant that he could sign with any team in the league, but the Knicks could match the offer and retain him. The Rockets offered Lin $25 million over 3 years. Ironically, the Rockets cut Lin on Christmas Eve last year and the Knicks picked him up. And the rest is history.

This time around, the Knicks decided that the money was too much to match. As a result of the departure, Lin-haters made it known that his departure was a good thing. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN cited Lin lacking the heart to play through injury during the playoffs and getting a big head after all the publicity of last season. Lin has not responded to these allegations, but the talk may be sour grapes considering Lin is leaving for more money elsewhere. Will Linsanity reign in Houston as it did in New York or was Lin’s hype all due to the fact that he played in the Big Apple?

More cashing in

While Jeremy did not make the list, Forbes Magazine released its annual list of the highest paid athletes. Placing second on the list is Manny Pacquiao, earning $62 million, boiled down to $56 million in fight salary and another $6 million in endorsements. He ranks behind his arch nemesis, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who earned $85 million. With Pacquiao and Mayweather at 1 and 2, one can imagine the payday if these two ever fight.

Golfer Tiger Woods came in third at $59.4 million.

Interestingly enough, two cricket players also made the list. Mahendra Singh Dhoni ranks at 31 and Sachin Tendulkar at 78. Dhoni made $26.5 million, while Tendulkar made $18.6 million. It shows that the sport is very popular in India despite not having much of a following in the United States.

There were only two women on the list. One of them, tennis player Li Na, came in at 81, earning a reported $18.4 million last year.

Twitter employee tweets while playing at World Series of Poker

Ian Chang, a computer engineer for Twitter, took his job with him to the World Series of Poker.

Chang began tweeting directly from the poker table and made the final 15 of one of the various tournaments held each year in Las Vegas. Chang ponied up the $1,000 entry fee to compete against more than 300 others vying for a grand prize of $2.5 million. He offered humorous insights on sitting at a poker table for more than 13 hours. He also picked up a lot of followers as many vicariously lived out their poker dreams through his tweets. One of Chang’s best tweets came when, during a hand, he sent out a tweet telling any other players reading his tweets he had “pocket aces” and added the hashtag “tweetbluff,” indicating that he was just kidding.

Asian golfers on the rise

Andy Zhang became the youngest golfer to play in the U.S. Open Golf tournament last month. The 14-year-old, originally from China, received an invitation after another golfer dropped out due to injury.

Zhang first learned the game when he was 6 from his father who is a recreational golfer. Zhang and his family moved from Beijing to the States when he was 10 to pursue golf. Zhang’s parents immediately enrolled him into an elite golf academy, where Zhang excelled.

Although Zhang did not “make the cut” in his first golf major appearance, it’s still a huge accomplishment. Zhang was awestruck when he met his idol Tiger Woods on the practice range.

Showing how young he is, Zhang was not alive when Woods won his first major golf tournament. He was born on December 14, 1997. Tiger won the Masters, his first major, on April 13, 1997. He was also amazed by all the free stuff one gets when playing in the tournament. Zhang could be a name we hear that may replace Tiger in the future.

In other golf news, Feng Shanshan made history as she became the first golfer from mainland China to win a major tournament. Shanshan won the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s (LPGA) Championship in June.

In addition to Shanshan, Yani Tseng of Taiwan is having a great year on the LPGA tour. She’s already won three LPGA tournaments this year and was picked by Time Magazine as being one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012.” At 23, there’s a lot more to look for from Tseng.

Getting ready for the Summer Games

The Summer Olympics begins on July 27th in London, England. It always interests me to see so many nations competing in a multitude of sports. The Layup Drill gives you this guide on what to look for when watching at home.

The fencing team has several Chinese Americans. including Doris Willette, Alexander Massialas, and Gerek Meinhardt. All three call San Francisco their home. I’m not sure if San Francisco is the hub of U.S. Fencing, but it sure seems like a trend.

Table tennis is a sport that seems to be very popular among many Asian Americans. It appears that one picks up the sport when they are young because most of the members of Team USA are just about to take their driving tests.

Timothy Wang is the only young adult at the age of 21. The other members include Ariel Hsing, 16, Erica Wu,  16, and Lily Zhang, 16.

Badminton nets two Asian Americans on the team. Howard Bach is a 33-year-old Vietnamese American badminton player that will be on the U.S. Badminton team. Bach immigrated from Vietnam at age 2 and learned the sport at age 5. He competed in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics in badminton doubles.

Bach will be teaming with Tony Gunawan in London after his doubles partner retired after the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Gunawan is an Indonesian-born badminton player that now represents the United States. He has won a gold medal for Indonesia and is considered to be one of the best badminton players in the world. Hopefully, Bach and Gunawan can mesh as a team and bring home a medal.

Clarissa Chun will be on the U.S. Women’s Freestyle Wrestling team. Placing fifth in the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, the native of Hawaii is looking to be on the medal stand in London. Chun, who is half Chinese and half Japanese will represent the United States in the 105-pound division.

At 4’11″, she may be short, but is a force to be reckoned with on the mat. Not bad for someone who was a star bowler on her high school team touting a career high of 232 pins. Chun is someone you probably would not want to upset at a bowling alley, or any alley for that matter.

Former University of Washington alumni

Tamari Miyashiro has made the U.S. Women’s Volleyball team. Along with former Husky Courtney Thompson, Miyashiro will be heading to London as part of the Olympic team for the first time.

Congratulations!

A scandal that is causing flack for the Olympic team is that the maker of the U.S. Olympic team’s uniforms were made in China. Usually, this would not be a problem, but since we are talking about the Olympics, it would make sense that Team USA would be outfitted in uniforms made in the USA.

The move by the U.S. Olympic Committee has drawn the ire of Congress as the U.S. textile industry is struggling. One would hope that the U.S. Olympic team would give it some business.

A special acknowledgement to Japanese Equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu. The 71-year-old will be competing in the Equestrian event at the Olympics. Hoketsu participated as a 23-year-old Olympian in 1964 and then again in 1988. He last competed at the age of 67 at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Watch out for these folks during the Olympics! (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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