Wat Misaka Passes

Wataru “Wat” Misaka has died at 95. He has always fascinated us.

He played college basketball at Weber State and Utah between 1941 and 1947 – like so many Japanese-Americans eager to prove their patriotism, he joined the fight against the Axis – and helped Utah win a national championship in 1944 and the NIT in 1947. He was also the first non-white player to play in the BAA (Basketball Association of America), the predecessor to the NBA and beat Japanese-born Rui Hachimura to pro basketball by 72 years.

He endured a lot of racism as a child and we’ve wondered what it was like for him to compete in college basketball as a Japanese-American during World War II. You have to wonder why no one has made a movie out of his life. It’s bound to be a fascinating story (there is a documentary called “Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story”).

After basketball, Misaka became an engineer and spent the rest of his life in Utah. We hope the NCAA has the sense to honor him this year at the Final Four.

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JD King