That’s right, all those reports you may have read about Jeremy Lin being the NBA’s first Asian-American player were mistaken. Wat Misaka earned that distinction long, long ago, in 1947, when he played three games for the Knicks before being cut by the same team that now employs Lin. Misaka, a Japanese-American, grew up in Ogden, Utah, when wartime Japanese internment camps existed in the Western US.
Like Lin, he was a clever playmaking guard, but a much shorter one at only 5 ft. 7 in. (Lin is 6 ft. 3 in.). That, Misaka thinks, may have been a factor in why the Knicks cut him. In college, however, he enjoyed a great run with the Utes, who won the 1944 NCAA championship by beating Dartmouth in overtime. In 1947 he was a mainstay on the team that won the NIT tournament in New York, which may have been the most coveted title in college basketball at the time. Utah defeated Kentucky in that championship game. Misaka, a retired engineer, now lives in Bountiful, Utah, and watches Lin’s career with great interest.