Anime and professional sports go together like chocolate and peanut butter. With sports anime such as Haikyuu, Slam Dunk, and Prince of Tennis representing plenty of professional sports leagues, one professional athlete recently revealed how much anime has affected their lives. NBA player Zion Williamson spoke in an interview and discussed how the world of Naruto impacted his career, while also hinting at how many anime fans there are currently playing in the National Basketball Association.
In discussing his desire to become a professional basketball player while being interviewed by GQ Magazine, Williamson saw his own life reflected in that of Naruto, with the young ninja being trained by the "Pervy Sage" Jiraiya in a series of events similar to his own upbringing:
"For a while nobody took Naruto seriously and then he went and trained with [master shinobi] Jiraiya for three years, right? And he came back at 16 years old, goated. Sure enough, I'm 16 years old and suddenly all of the attention starts coming. I remember thinking, Yo, that's crazy. That's exactly when it happened for Naruto, and it's when it's happening for me."
When asked regarding where Zion feels he is in his life right now in conjunction with the story of Masashi Kishimoto's shonen franchise, Williamson had this to say:
"It's when Sasuke was going rogue. All of Naruto's friends and teammates came to him like, 'Dude, you're gonna have to make tough decisions if you really want to be Hokage. And Naruto, he started hyperventilating because that's a lot of pressure. He's just a kid, and that's his friend, you know? He really cared for him. And all anyone was telling him was that he needed to handle it, to take him down. Nobody ever asked him how he felt."
Williamson also went on to state that a staggering eighty percent of players in the NBA are fans of anime, which might make sense when you consider the number of times in the past when professional athletes walked onto the court wearing anime apparel of some sort.
What do you think of Zion Williamson's history with the world of Naruto? Feel free to let us know in the comments or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics, anime, and the world of the Hidden Leaf Village.