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Volume 26 No. 105
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Wizards Hope Rui Hachimura Boosts Team's Profile In Japan

Since drafting Hachimura, the Wizards have created a Japanese-language website and Twitter account
Photo: NBAE/getty images
Since drafting Hachimura, the Wizards have created a Japanese-language website and Twitter account
Photo: NBAE/getty images
Since drafting Hachimura, the Wizards have created a Japanese-language website and Twitter account
Photo: NBAE/getty images

The Wizards have "already implemented an aggressive game plan with the goal of making a big splash in the Japanese market" following their decision to select rookie F Rui Hachimura in the NBA Draft, according to Rick Maese of the WASHINGTON POST. As part of the effort, the team has "launched a Japanese-language team site and a Japanese Twitter feed." Within the first two days, the Japanese Twitter account "amassed 10,000 followers and is now over 13,000." The team also "hired a bilingual correspondent," Zac Ikuma, who will "host a targeted podcast while reporting on all things Hachimura and all things Wizards" for the Japanese audience. Ikuma's coverage will "often revolve around Hachimura." The organization will "keep the player's focus on the court, but Hachimura will often be the featured attraction in its content focused on a Japanese market." The NBA has "identified Japan as a market ripe for growth." This month, the league "staged its first preseason game there in 16 years" between the Raptors and Rockets. Wizards officials said that they will "push to play an exhibition game there, too, either next year" or in '21. Hachimura next week will "become just the third Japanese player to appear in a regular season NBA game." Even if Hachimura is "not an instant star," he will "surely be a boon for the Wizards in merchandising and corporate sponsorships" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/15).

PARTNERING UP: Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced a deal with Japan-based IT firm NEC, and this will mark the first international partnership for the Wizards since the NBA allowed teams to sell global marketing rights to two international partners starting with the '19-20 season. The deal also is a first for an NBA franchise in Japan. NEC will have messaging within Wizards broadcasts, as well as digital and social media, plus TV-visible signage. NEC also gains hospitality assets, including sweepstakes opportunities for NEC customers (Monumental Sports & Entertainment).