The world of anime has been brought into the world of professional sports for years now, with various Shonen franchises being touted in the NFL, UFC, and most recently, in the NBA with professional athlete Zion Williamson, Taking to the court wearing a jacket with Naruto, Luffy, and Saitama from Naruto, One Piece, and One-Punch Man respectively, it's clear that the member of the New Orlean Pelicans wears his love of anime on his sleeve, with both a jacket and his sneakers showing as much before his latest big game.
Sports and anime have had a partnership for quite some time, and not just with professional athletes wearing shorts and shirts that honor some of the biggest characters, but with various anime franchises modeling themselves after major athletics. Series such as Haikyuu, Prince of Tennis, Hajime no Ippo, and countless others have taken the opportunity to pit their respective heroes into situations where they are attempting to be the best in their respective sporting fields. For basketball specifically, Slam Dunk is often touted as the pinnacle of an anime centering on the sport, and the beloved franchise is set to return next year with a new film the will once again return to the fast-paced franchise.
Sprotscenter shared the images of Zion Williamson's coat and sneakers honoring some of the biggest anime characters in the game via its Official Twitter Account, proving that the NBA player is a mighty big fan of the medium that has given viewers countless characters and hard-hitting stories over the decades:
In the world of Shonen, Naruto and One Piece are still chugging along with the former handing off the torch to a new generation in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations and the latter set to hit its one-thousandth episode via its anime adaptation. While a third season for One-Punch Man has yet to be confirmed for the story of Saitama, Sony Pictures confirmed that a new live-action movie is in the works for the West, bringing the "Hero For Fun," into a brand new medium for the first time.
What is your favorite appearance of an anime in the world of sports? 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 Shonen and Sports.