The Layup Drill — The Kings, the Hawks, cricket, and boxing

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill.  It would have been great to write about the return of the Supersonics, but that was not to be.
Ranadive owns the Sacramento Kings

Vivek Ranadive saved the day for the city of Sacramento when he stepped in to pay the majority of the money to purchase the Sacramento Kings and keep them from moving to Seattle. When put to a vote on whether to accept Ranadive’s offer or Seattle’s Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen’s offer, the NBA relocation committee recommended to the NBA owners that keeping the team in Sacramento would be best. The owners agreed via a 22-8 vote.

We profiled Ranadive in last month’s column. A native of India, he is a software tycoon and was brought into the ownership group when it was discovered that a Seattle group was trying to purchase the Kings and move them. Ranadive’s group purchased the controlling interest, 65 percent, of the Sacramento Kings for approximately $348 million dollars. Many believed that Ranadive’s heritage might have helped influence the vote since the NBA would like to make inroads into India. Coincidentally, David Stern visited the country this spring to look at the growth of the game in that country. Was that a tipoff that Stern was leaning to Ranadive?

For Sonics fans, the wait continues for the NBA to return to Seattle.

Cricket scandal

Maybe more people in India will be watching the Kings next year as the country is dealing with corruption in the nation’s most popular sport: cricket. Recently, police in Delhi arrested 3 cricket players for fixing matches in the Indian Premier League, one of the most popular tournaments in the country. The players are being accused of “spot fixing,” which involves deliberately rigging part of the game, such as allowing the other team to score runs. Subtle signs were used to communicate with those gambling on the matches to let them know what was going to happen. Shoving a towel into their waistband, pulling out their necklace from inside their shirt, and leaving their shirts untucked were all ways to allow gamblers to place bets.

The next Usain Bolt?

Is the next Usain Bolt from Japan? Yoshide Kiryu is starting to hear the comparisons, and he’s only 17 years old. At a recent track meet, Kiryu ran 100 meters in 10.01 seconds — a junior world record.

Kiryu was surprised with his record. But of course, he broke the youth world record of 100 meters with 10.21 seconds.  So maybe improving by .20 seconds should not have been a surprise. Or maybe he was being modest.

Kiryu has his eyes set on the Japanese record at the 100 meters, which is currently 9.96 seconds.  He’s so set on beating the record that he wrote it down on a chalkboard in his classroom for inspiration. His ultimate goal is competing stride for stride with Usain Bolt and his world record of 9.58 seconds. Look out for Yoshide Kiryu at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

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Boxer Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (Photo by Arvee Eco)

Donaire loses in New York

2012’s Fighter of the Year and one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world was upset last month.

“The Filipino Flash,” Nonito Donaire, was upset by Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux in front of a packed crowd at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Donaire found himself in a hole from the start and not even knocking down the Cuban challenger could sway the judges as Rigondeaux won by decision. It was Donaire’s first professional loss since 2001.

It was just the second fight at the famed indoor theatre in a setup that saw the fighters on stage in the ring as if they were acting out a play.

The loss is disappointing to Donaire, considering he planned to take extended time off from the ring as his wife is expecting their first baby. Not so disappointing was that the fight was Donaire’s biggest payday yet, as he earned $1.32 million dollars. At least Donaire can enjoy the birth of his first child and not worry about finances.

Pacquiao to fight in Macau

Remember Manny Pacquiao?  He’ll be back in the ring at the end of the year, but it won’t be in the United States.  Pacquiao is scheduled to fight Brandon Rios on Nov. 24 on the island of Macau off the mainland of China. Pacquiao usually fights in Las Vegas. The plan is to sell the fight via pay per view to the Chinese audience. Rios was a surprise opponent as many thought there would be a rematch with the man that knocked Pacquiao out last December, Juan Manuel Marquez. It is an interesting fight at an interesting location. Pacquiao is on a two-fight losing streak and hopes to turn it around in front of a new audience.

We shall see if he can return to form or if Father Time has caught up with him.

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Korean golfer Bae Sang-moon

South Korean wins first PGA tournament

Adding to the accolades of great Asian golfers, 26-year-old South Korean Sang Moon Bae won his first Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) event at the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas on May 19.  Bae led from the start of the tournament and held on for the victory. He earned himself $1.2 million for his first tournament win, matching his earnings from his other 42 tour appearances combined. Bae is the fourth South Korean to win on tour following K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang, and Kevin Na.

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Fijian golfer Vijay Singh (Photo by Siyi Chen)

Singh sues PGA

While Bae is celebrating a well-earned win, Vijay Singh is defending his reputation in a lawsuit against the PGA.  The native Fijian admitted to using “deer antler spray” in a Sports Illustrated article in January.

The spray is said to have an “insulin-like growth factor,” but is also included on a list of substances that were banned by the PGA. It is believed that the use of the spray contributed to growth factors that can give a golfer an unfair advantage.

However, new information obtained by the PGA Tour led to a decision to no longer ban the substance because it contains minimal amounts of the offending substance. As a result, the PGA Tour dropped its suspension of Singh. Story over, right?

Wrong. Singh has decided to sue the PGA Tour due to a 12-week investigation that Singh claims caused him “public humiliation and ridicule.” Singh believes that his reputation was damaged due to the PGA’s investigation and claims. He also claims in the lawsuit that the PGA Tour relied on faulty information in making its initial determination that the banned substance provided any performance enhancing benefits.  Moreover, it put Singh’s tournament earnings in a non-interest bearing escrow account until the investigation concluded.

The lawsuit may be seen as retribution from Singh, since the PGA Tour has dropped its investigation and suspension. But, is suing your present employer the right thing to do? Who is in the right here? It looks like a judge and jury will decide.

Former Bellevue High star gets shot at Seahawks Rookie Camp

Peter Nguyen is back on the Eastside playing football.  Nguyen, the former Bellevue High School running back standout played college football at the University of Montana.  Now, he’s been invited to participate in the Seahawks rookie mini-camp. In fact, Coach Pete Carroll walked off the field with Nguyen after the end of the three-day camp. The numbers are daunting for someone like Nguyen to make it on an NFL roster, or to even be asked back for summer camp, but we wish him the best. (end)

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

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