Latest Newsletter🍵 White House’s first Lunar New YearRead


Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe Become the First Japanese NBA Players to Play Against Each Other


    Asian America Daily - in under 5 minutes

    Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories, to your inbox daily, for free!

    Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive

    Yuta Watanabe of the Memphis Grizzlies and Rui Hachimura of the Washington Wizards made history as the first pair of Japanese players to share an NBA court.

    The 25-year-old Grizzlies small forward/shooting guard and the 21-year-old Wizards power forward, who are both members of the Japanese national team, met at a game in Memphis’ FedExForum on Saturday, according to Commercial Appeal.

    Memphis won the game with a score of 128-111.


    Their meeting marks the very first time in NBA history where two Japanese players played against each other in a regular season game.

    Hachimura entered the court with only 7 minutes and 42 seconds left on the clock while Watanabe was already on the court playing the game, the Japanese Times reported.

    “It felt extremely weird,” Watanabe said. “I never imagined playing against a Japanese opponent. He’ll probably continue to get more minutes as a starter. For me, my time on court is contingent on how much better I can get.”

    Even though the two players only played against each other for a little over a minute, they still had a face-off in which Hachimura made a shot while Watanabe contested. After the game, the two athletes reportedly swapped jerseys.

    “It was only a little time, but I think it’s great to make such big history,” Hachimura said. “I think we’ll be playing against each other a lot in the future, so even though it was short it was good to experience.”

    Watanabe is already in his second and final year of a two-way contract with the Grizzlies. This means the basketball player goes back and forth playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and its G League affiliate, Memphis Hustle.

    Feature Image via @yutawatanabe12 (Left), @rui_8mura (Right)

    Support our Journalism with a Contribution

    Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.

    Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice.

    However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID-19 pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.

    We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way.  Thank you for everyone's support. We love you all and can't appreciate you guys enough.

    Support NextShark

    Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Discover, Paypal