With the NBA trade deadline right around the corner, the Los Angeles Lakers have been making some big moves in the trade market. In fact, Rob Pelinka and Co recently acquired Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards in an impressive trade this week. Consequently, the talented forward’s arrival in Hollywood received a mixed reaction from the NBA world, including Shaquille O’Neal’s blatant ignorance. However, things played out differently on the other side of the world.

The young forward made his debut with the Lakers against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. While many fans and big names were skeptical about the Lakers’ acquisition, Hachimura’s debut was widely celebrated across Japan. So much so that fans drew comparisons to Houston Rockets legend Yao Ming.

Rui Hachimura’s eventful debut amid Shaquille O’Neal’s ignorance


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Rui Hachimura, born and brought up in Toyama, Japan, turned out to be a basketball phenom. After dominating Japanese high school, Hachimura moved to the States, where he joined Gonzaga to play for the Bulldogs. Consequently, an impressive showing in the amateurs heralded him at the top of the NBA draft, where the Washington Wizards drafted him in 2019. However, the young forward found little to no success in Washington. But a team on the West Coast deemed his services to be helpful.

Amid a struggling season, LeBron James‘ Lakers were under immense pressure to make a move before the trade deadline. Sooner rather than later, the Lakers’ top brass pulled the trigger and traded away assets to acquire Hachimura from the Wizards.

The trade received a mixed bag of reactions from fans and the NBA world. Meanwhile, Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal notoriously expressed his ignorance of Hachimura’s existence after the trade surfaced. He exclaimed, “Who the f**k is that”.


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However, despite not being memorable enough for the Los Angeles Lakers legend, Hachimura’s debut caused a major frenzy in his home country. Reportedly, the Lakers vs. Spurs game pulled in record numbers in Japan and also caused the servers to crash due to heightened traffic. Following the stunning feat, fans on social media started drawing comparisons between Hachimura and Houston Rockets legend Yao Ming, whom O’Neal locked horns with in the past.

Fans draw Yao Ming comparisons

Much like Ming, Hachimura has emerged as one of the most successful players from his country. Carrying the expectations of the 125 million-strong country, the 24-year-old forward may well be on his path to making history like the Chinese Hall of Famer. However, Hachimura may suffer a similar fate like Ming if his injuries continue to steal his time on the court. Despite being one of the most talented centers in the league, the 7’6” center’s career was cut short due to gruesome injuries.

But the recent popularity feat from Hachimura forced fans to make direct comparisons to Ming’s popularity and legacy in China.

Here are some fan reactions on Twitter:


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Apart from making comparisons to Ming, fans lauded the impressive feat and also the Lakers for their global initiatives.


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