Los Angeles (USA) (EFE).- Idol in Japan with only 24 years. Capable of revolutionizing NBA streaming in his land for one of his games. This is Rui Hachimura, the latest signing of the Los Angeles Lakers and one more business and sports link between the NBA and the Japanese country On January 25, Hachimura made his debut with the Lakers against the San Antonio Spurs after his recent transfer from the Washington Wizards.
However, many of his fans in his native Japan missed the start of that game as NBA Rakuten streaming went down minutes before it started due to what this service defined -in a statement to The Sun- as “a sudden increase in user traffic.”
The anger and frustration among many Japanese fans on social media was such that NBA Rakuten had to set up a free YouTube broadcast of the Spurs-Lakers game until service could be restored.
This is one example among others of the impact of Hachimura, who in 2019 became the first Japanese to be chosen in the first round of the NBA draft (ninth position, specifically).
A forward with athletic ability and physical power, the Japanese has landed in some flimsy Lakers when it’s time to build muscle and who have also welcomed his aim from medium distance with open arms.
Hachimura, with an average of 13 points per game, has responded from the beginning and this week, for example, he added 19 points and 9 rebounds in the victory against the New York Knicks.
But apart from his performance on the court, Hachimura is also a reflection of the special interest that an NBA in constant international expansion has in Asia.
Japanese passion for the NBA
“The Lakers are one of the most famous teams in Japan. The NBA is growing right now in Japan and everyone knows the Lakers.”
This is how Hachimura explained in his presentation round with those in purple and gold the great attention that his signing in Japan has aroused.
With 570,000 followers on Instagram and 237,000 on Twitter (not bad for a player who is far from being considered a star), the figure of the Japanese, who is also very active in the fight against racism, has also been attractive and interesting for the marks.
This aspect was seen very quickly by Jordan Brand and Nike, who signed Hachimura for their catalog in June 2019 when he had not yet played his first game in the NBA.
«The ‘jumpman’ (jumper) of Japan. Welcome to the Future of Flight,” the brand posted on Instagram in a message that received 175,000 “likes.”
Another notable Hachimura sponsorship is Japan’s Casio’s G-Shock, which has a line of watches named after the player.
In a Japanese key, it also has an agreement with Nissin, a food company and creator of the famous instant noodles marketed as Cup Noodle.
With these and other endorsements, it’s easy to understand why Forbes magazine called Hachimura in 2019 “the most marketable NBA rookie not named Zion Williamson.”
The sponsors are not the only ones who have realized the potential around Hachimura since the NBA itself used him as a kind of ambassador when its then Washington Wizards traveled to Japan to play two friendlies against the Golden State Warriors in 2022.
Now it is the Lakers who have the opportunity to exploit Hachimura’s qualities on and off the court and the starting point is unbeatable since California is the state with the largest population of Japanese origin in the US.
“There are a lot of Japanese people in Los Angeles. I think that made me feel like this is my home, “said Hachimura upon her arrival in the city of stars.
From the outset, and apart from his solid performances on the track in the first games, Hachimura could not have had a better letter of introduction to the Lakers fans since the number 28 he has chosen is a tribute to Kobe Bryant (for 8) and his daughter Gigi Bryant (who played for 2).