Ah yes, late Autumn. All of the signs tell you we’re in the thick of it- local Starbucks lines trail outside as everyone wants some of that PSL action, hordes of school children are ruining rock songs that made their teachers feel nostalgic (pour some out for my brother), and most importantly, sports are back on television. There really isn’t anything like this time of year of the sports junkie- NCAA football and basketball both begin, the NFL and NBA also start firing on all cylinders, and both MLB and MLS gear up for their playoffs at this time as well.
Last year, one of AniTAY’s other writers, Gugsy, wrote about how Green Bay Packers defensive back Mike Daniels has a fascination with Dragon Ball Z. This particular article resonated with me (besides the fact it was one of my first public comments on AniTAY) because not too long before this story, I started to notice that a lot of my teammates on my basketball team were real keen on discussing Dragon Ball Z (namely the film, Battle of the Gods). Gugs hits the nail on the head with saying the notion is usually that jocks don’t like anime, but for whatever reason, in all of my experiences with other athletes, most rule DBZ to be their exception to that rule. I go on stretches where I actually dislike the series just from being subjected to seeing awful novelty t-shirts every day in the gym saying things like “TRAIN INSAIYAN” or “MY POWER LEVEL IS OVER 9000". The ironic part? Most of these individuals will chat up a storm about how much they love Vegeta, but the moment lights come on and it is addressed as an anime, the tune usually changes to “Gross! Why would I be into that?!” Such a mystery that one anime can bring people oh so close to the sun that they’re literally wearing loud shirts with weebish things on them and yet do not acknowledge the facts.
Why am I going on that tangent? Well, to show that athleticism and Dragon Ball Z are more of a thing than one or two articles might seem like they’re reaching for. Enter De’Aaron Fox, a rookie recently drafted by the Sacramento Kings basketball organization. The young man garnered a lot of positive buzz after destroying what many regarded to be the best talent of the year in Lonzo Ball during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (AKA March Madness, as I’m sure you might have heard in passing once). Late last week in a win against the Dallas Mavericks, Fox hit a three point shot and, allegedly, shouted “KAMEHA” after draining that baby. Here is the video that I will go ahead and tell you is not edited (several other clips from the same game and different broadcasts have proven this). If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, at the 0:05 mark, look for number 5 in purple on the far bottom right. Once he releases the shot and it goes in, that is the bit in question.
The 24 hour news cycle has ran through everything related to this particular incident (namely how Fox really likes Vegeta more than Goku and that the shout wasn’t close to the correct signature move Goku has) and had it not been for being ill this whole past week, I would have broken it sooner. That being said, I’d like to direct attention to something else this story shines light on. Look at De’Aaron Fox’s Twitter profile for a second- the guy has a low quality JPEG of DBZ characters for his banner, his location is set to the planet Vegeta and what I can only assume is commissioned art of himself in Saiyan armor for a profile picture. It goes without saying he is a big fan of the series, but was this anyone else, people would be shouting that this guy was a total weeb by Internet standards. What high class weeb nature are you in where on a national level, you wear these?
Fox isn’t the only rookie to have his fair share of DBZ love, however, as Golden State Warriors rookie Jordan Bell also has publically spoken about the anime (A look at Bell’s bio on Twitter also makes a reference to DBZ):
Remember that Lonzo Ball fellow I mentioned earlier? The one that Fox destroyed in March Madness? He made a rap music video this week and titled it “Super Saiyan” (there are layers to that statement, I’m aware).
So why are we seeing more and more fans of DBZ in pro athletes? The answer is quite simple: in that rare time in the early 00's where the two anime series, Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z broke all tackles and ran through Western media, an immeasurable amount of talents fell in love with the high testosterone action series. Toonami ran the dub to DBZ in 2001-2002 and re-runs filled two hour slots at a time after school for the next four to six years on Cartoon Network. As someone born in 1994, I find it entirely plausible that most of these athletes going pro this season and on (1996 is the average DOB for a pro athlete right now) probably were graced with that little romance that the States had with anime in the early 2000's. This isn’t necessarily a sign of things to come, but it is fascinating to see the fruits of the big boom (or should I say Big Bang Attack?) on such a high level.
Where is somewhere you experienced the Otaku culture that you weren’t expecting? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for stopping by AniTAY, your go to source for anime news, opinion articles, and collaborations for seasonal pieces.