By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this offering, we take a look at the antics of Dennis Rodman, the incredible story of a local gymnast, and getting ready for the Winter Olympics.
Baldwin helps Hawks to Super Bowl
The Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl! It was a nail-biter that had many Seattle fans screaming at the top of their lungs throughout the game. In the end, the good guys (aka Seattle Seahawks) prevailed over their hated rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, to earn the right to play the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Former Stanford Cardinal Doug Baldwin led the receivers with six catches for 106 yards. He had an important 51-yard reception that sparked the team when it was trailing in the game. Baldwin, who is half Filipino, also ran back kickoffs — including a 69-yard return, which set up a score for the Seahawks. Despite the doubt by many scouts that he could make it as a professional football player, Baldwin has made a nice career for himself and uses that doubt as fuel for his play. Good luck to Baldwin and the rest of the team. They play the Denver Broncos Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., which is the site of Super Bowl 48. Go Hawks!
Celski returns to Olympics
Congratulations go out to short track speed skater J.R. Celski, who will be back at the Winter Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia. Celski put aside the painful memories of the last Olympic trials, when he put a gash in his own leg from his skate causing a significant injury that almost cost him an appearance in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Despite the horrific injury in 2010, Celski still won two Bronze medals in Vancouver. The 23-year-old, originally from Federal Way, Wash., won the 1,000-meter short track speed skating at this year’s Olympic trials this past month. He’ll look to improve on this in Sochi. In total, Celski will compete in three individual events, the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meter races.
Nagasu makes top three, but will not get Olympics nod
Mirai Nagasu was left off the U.S. Olympics team for women’s figure skating when it was decided by the U.S. Figure Skating committee that two-time U.S. women’s champ Ashley Wagner will take Nagasu’s anticipated spot for the Sochi Olympics. Wagner had fallen twice during her routine at the U.S. National Championships. The top three at this event are usually slotted to make the Olympic team. However, due to a rule allowing the U.S. Figure Skating committee the opportunity to make its decision based on results over the past year, the results of the National Championship meant nothing.
This is heartbreaking for Nagasu, who made the team in 2010 at the age of 16 and then placed 4th overall in the Vancouver Games. She will not get another shot this year.
Why have competitions if you are not going to base the outcome on who wins? The rule of awarding an Olympic spot based on overall results over the year seems to be used to ensure that the U.S. team gets who it wants and who it can market to advertisers. If this is the case, why not just handpick skaters without competition? We feel bad for Nagasu and hope that she will be back in 2018.
Athletes from India banned from carrying flag at Olympics
In an embarrassing turn of events, athletes from India will not compete under their own flag at the Sochi Games in February. Due to accusations of corruption by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IOC has been frozen since December 2012. Thus, Indian athletes will march in at the Opening Ceremony with a generic Olympic flag and not their nation’s flag. The IOC will classify them as independents.
One of the unique things about the Olympics is that amateur athletes compete for their country and their flag is a symbol of this. We’ve all seen the pictures at the awards ceremony where an athlete looks with glassy eyes filling with tears as their flag is raised. For athletes of India, it must be disconcerting knowing that a generic flag will be drawn up if they make it to the podium.
Local gymnast scores big with only one hand
At 4’11”, 17-year-old Amelia “Millie” Andrilenas is not the tallest competitor on her team, but she stands out. Andrilenas was adopted from China when she was only 16 months old. She has a congenital malformation of her left hand, leaving her without an operable left hand. Despite her hand, she took up gymnastics at an early age. She is now Juanita High School’s best gymnast.
Andrilenas is the top scorer on a 27-gymnast team. Last year, she made the state meet in floor and vault.
In addition to gymnastics, she plays soccer for Juanita. She also excels in the classroom and is in advanced placement classes and hopes for a career in occupational therapy.
Japan’s top tennis star one of “30 under 30”
Kei Nishikori has been picked by Forbes as one of “30 under 30” athletes for 2014. Nishikori, 24, earns $9 million in endorsements alone. Despite not having won a Grand Slam title, his earnings suggest that he is a popular figure and top draw in Japan. 2013 was a good year for Nishikori, as he has steadily climbed the rankings. He currently sits at No. 19. Be on the lookout for Nishikori at this month’s Australian Open.
Pacquiao in tax trouble in U.S. and Philippines
Despite being an icon in the Philippines and a popular figure in the United States, Manny Pacquiao is in trouble with both countries for unpaid taxes. Pacquiao only fought once in 2013 and got back on the winning track after defeating Brandon Rios in Macau, China. We reported that he owed money to the Philippines for unpaid taxes. We now hear that he owes the IRS $18 million dollars for taxes he did not pay on income earned over the course of time for fights in the United States. Perhaps there’s a reason why Pacquiao fought outside of the United States this time around. The heavy tax burden on his fight purses is real. Thus, fighting in places like Macau, where taxes are none or next to none, is advantageous. There’s no word on whether Pacquiao will need to pay the money back or who is to blame for not paying taxes. With so many people in Pacquiao’s entourage, why isn’t there an accountant on his staff?
N. Korea, Dennis Rodman: BFFs?
Dennis Rodman is in the news again. And you know this means trouble. Rodman, in his fourth trip to North Korea, brought former NBA basketball players as a means of “basketball diplomacy” to North Korea for an exhibition game. Former Seattle Supersonics Vince Baker, Kenny Anderson (he played a year with the team), and former Rainier Beach High School star Doug Christie joined Rodman on the trip. And one could only ask why. The trip was highlighted by a verbal tirade against a CNN interviewer in which he denounced Kenneth Bae, an American missionary imprisoned by the country.
Bae, a former resident of Lynnwood, Wash., was convicted by North Korea for allegedly trying to overthrow the government. Rodman eventually apologized for his visit and some of his comments about Bae, which he blamed on his drinking. One can only shake one’s head at Rodman and what he does. It’s also surprising how much access he is allowed in North Korea. Latest news reports have him announcing that he will soon be entering alcohol rehab.
Jeremy Lin signs with Adidas
Despite a minor injury this year, our favorite Asian American NBA star has had a solid season with the Houston Rockets. Lin’s notoriety and solid play earned him a new shoe contract with Adidas. Lin left his old sponsor, Nike, for its biggest competitor. Signing Lin is a big deal for the China sports market, as Adidas is seeking to take market share away from Nike. Nike has a 12.1 percent market share, while Adidas has an 11.2 percent market share, according to a recent business article. In addition to securing Lin as an Adidas endorser, the company is seeking to target women in the country, an untapped demographic. A spokesperson for Adidas stated, “There’s no Lululemon in China.”
Lin announced signing with the footwear brand via his Facebook page. There’s no word on if Lin will have his own signature shoe or whether he will star in commercials or make appearances for the company. It’s a “shoe-in” that Lin will be a major spokesperson for the sponsor. I am surprised that Nike let Lin go after all of the euphoria of “Linsanity” in New York. But since Lin left the Big Apple for Houston, Nike has done little to elevate the status of the Taiwanese American guard. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.