THE MAN WHO REALLY BROKE THE NBA COLOR BARRIER

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WAT MISAKA

Do you know who broke the color barrier in professional basketball? Any guesses? Wrong, wrong and wrong.

In 1947, Wat Misaka, a Japanese-American, became the first racial minority to play in the NBA. Misaka played for the New York Knicks after starring in college for the University of Utah. Misaka led the Utes to an NIT championship in 1947 and Utah won the NCCA tournament in 1944.

Sunday’s Sacramento Bee has a great feature on Misaka, who is now 85-years-old. Few other media outlets have covered Misaka, but a documentary called “Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story” is currently being screened around the country. Misaka played college basketball at a time when 120,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast were being held in internment camps.

 

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