Long after the game had ended, on the tails of Filipino Heritage Night and The Houston Rockets first victory of the season against an undefeated Utah Jazz team. 2,000 people waited with anticipation. Some wearing the highly anticipated giveaway jersey for the night. While others can be seen wearing a certain familiar blue, white, yellow, and red. But the one thing they all had in common, was the pride they all had in their eyes as they waited for their hero to walk out of that tunnel. As Jalen Green walked out, the people rose to their feet, phones out to take a picture, others screaming his name and wanting high fives.
It’s something that was seen as unfathomable for our people. A hero that played professionally for the NBA but was actually one of us. What was seen as a pipe dream became a reality on July 29th, 2021 when Jalen Green was selected 2nd overall by the Houston Rockets.
This is by no means disparaging Raymond Townsend or Jordan Clarkson, the former being the first ever Filipino NBA player and the latter a current Utah Jazz player. But they are not of the caliber of talent and potential that Jalen Green possesses. He is the prince who was promised since his days in San Joaquin High School in Fresno, California.
But underneath all the basketball talent with the swagger to match, lies his roots with his mother’s homeland. It was at that time, as a sophomore in high school, he began his rise to prominence in The Philippines. Fast forward to today, and his impact and popularity has only grown exponentially. With his most recent trip to the Philippines this past August for an Adidas Tour.
If you need proof of said popularity, take a look at the Houston Rocket’s own Filipino Heritage Night. An event that too has only grown exponentially since Jalen Green was drafted. This year’s event was so successful that it tripled last year’s numbers. The numbers don’t lie, and Jalen’s popularity amongst his fellow Pinoys doesn’t either.
So as he made his way to the court, with love and adulation from his fellow country men and women. I can’t help but think that myself, an American born Filipino whose earliest memories of experiencing Rockets basketball involved pots and pans and an NBA championship back in 1995. I get to witness the greatness that is unfolding before me. Because of this I feel nothing but pride seeing Jalen Green be the Man who will not only carry the future of the Houston Rockets behind his electric athleticism and dynamic guard play, but also carry the banner of a country who’s been longing to finally have an NBA player that they can all call their own. A hero that they’ve needed. The Pride of The Philippines.
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