Long before Linsanity or even before any African Americans would play in what would become the NBA, Wataru “Wat” Misaka became the first person of color to play professional basketball in the Basketball Association of America, playing three games for the New York Knicks in 1947. In January 2022 , he was honored by the University of Utah and had his jersey hung in the rafters of The University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center. Misaka was born in Utah and lead his high school team to a state championship. He lead the University of Utah to an NCAA tournament championship in 1944, and after serving in the Army, lead the Utes to a NIT tournament championship. Misaka was honored in 2020 by a resolution from Utah State Senator Jani Iwamoto that recognized all that he had done.
After basketball, Misaka had a career as an electrical engineer. Misaka died in 2019, but got a chance to watch another Asian American basketball pioneer, Jeremy Lin, play against the Utah Jazz in 1993.