NBA Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. Channels 'One Piece' On The Court

It’s no secret that anime and athletes tend to jive, but hard-core otakus never tire of the connection. So, if you are looking for a new anime nerd to support, you better check out Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies. The buzzed-about rookie is a big anime fan, and it seems One Piece has helped elevate his game on the court.

Recently, Sports Illustrated did a piece on Jackson and broke down the athlete’s favorite anime. It turns out the rookie is a big fans of Monkey D. Luffy and pulls serious inspiration from the seafaring hero.

“[Luffy is] real stretchy. He’ll just beat you down and he’ll act real casual about it, which is the funny part,” Jackson described the Straw Hat captain. “He just acts like it’s an everyday thing, but like, he just kills somebody. Just goes off.”

As the report details, Jackson stumbled upon anime as a child, and he never grew bored of the medium. The athlete discovered Dragon Ball Z as a child and rediscovered his interest in animation as a teenager, but Jackson admits there is something special about anime that Western cartoons cannot touch.

“It’s real lit,” Jackson said. “Everything’s exaggerated. It’s different than any type of show you’d watch. Everything’s over the top and then some. Emotions are crazy. The fighting’s crazy.”

While the athlete enjoys watching anime fights on the surface, there is far more connecting him to Luffy than fans might think. Sure, the two men live in completely separate universes, but all of Jackson’s accolades prove he could be the NBA’s big breakout. Luffy might be able to stretch tall to fight foes, but Jackson seems to do the same on the court. At just 19 years old, the center is considered to be one of the 2018 NBA draft’s top picks, and he has yet to tap into his full potential. In the same way Luffy hadn’t learned his own strength before meeting Rayleigh Silvers, Jackson is still molding his own path, and it is only a matter of time until he unlocks his Gear Fourth.

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So, which anime would you recommend for Jackson to watch next...? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!

Eiichiro Oda's One Piece first began serialization in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997. It has since been collected into over 80 volumes, and has been a critical and commercial success worldwide with many of the volumes breaking printing records in Japan. The manga has even set a Guinness World Record for the most copies published for the same comic book by a single author, and is the best-selling manga series worldwide with over 430 million copies sold.