Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Los Angeles Lakers Media Day was Monday at the team’s UCLA Health Training Center, which saw the likes of Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and the entire roster gathered together in an official manner for the first time.
In the cases of Hachimura and Reaves, they are back with the Lakers after re-signing respective contracts in free agency. Whereas Reaves as developed into a significant contributor since being drafted by the Lakers, Hachimura first joined the team last season via trade.
Months into his Lakers career, the Los Angeles Dodgers invited the 25-year-old to throw out the first pitch for Japanese Heritage Night at Dodger Stadium.
While speaking with the Spectrum SportsNet set from Lakers Media Day, Hachimura reflected on the opportunity fondly:
“I wanted to do it for a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever done it in my life. So that was my first time and it was a great moment. The crowd was crazy. It was Japanese (Heritage) Night too.”
Although Hachimura thoroughly enjoyed his experience at Dodger Stadium, he admitted it came with being nervous:
“I was. When I walked to the mound I was like, ‘Oh my God. I’m here.’”
Hachimura was born in Toyama, Japan, and played collegiately at Gonzaga University. He was selected by the Washington Wizards with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Wizards traded Hachimura to the Lakers on January 23, 2023, for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round draft picks.
Hachimura impressed in his time with the Lakers and was re-signed this past July to a three-year contract worth a reported $51 million.
Why did Rui Hachimura throw out first pitch?
In addition to the Dodgers and Lakers sharing a strong relationship and being intertwined as premier sports franchises, Hachimura was a logical choice due to his Japanese roots.
Furthermore, the Dodgers’ Japanese Heritage Night came against the Los Angeles Angels, whose roster of course includes two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani.
Despite having nerves when on the mound, Hachimura appeared plenty comfortable as he encouraged the crowd to cheer louder before throwing the pitch to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Dodgers attendance for the Freeway Series finale was 53,057, their largest home crowd of the 2023 season.
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