An Open Letter to the Japanese American Basketball Community

By CAMRYN HAMAGUCHI

Dear JA Basketball Community:

Isn’t it crazy how far we’ve come? To most outsiders, this community might not mean much to them. They don’t know about the Saturday practices and Sunday games, the feeling of spending an entire weekend with your team during the Tigers tournament or meeting up with your friends for Obon on those hot days in July.

The feeling of being around people you’ve known all your life, growing up and playing against all your OCO teammates in high school and college. The feeling of excitement and connection when you see a complete stranger representing a Nikkei or Yonsei T-shirt around town. Being in the CSULB Pyramid in August surrounded by all of your family and friends, or driving to Las Vegas for the most anticipated JA basketball weekend of the year.

To outsiders, none of this makes any sense. But this isn’t for the outsiders. This is for the invested people in the JA basketball community. The community I grew up in and have come to love. The only community I’ve ever known. This is for you, JA basketball, this is for us.

To think it was just a mere 85 years ago that you became a public circle, a common ground and safe space for all Japanese Americans facing discrimination during and post World War II. When we were forbidden from becoming naturalized citizens after the war and were kicked out of all the regular sports leagues, we looked to you.