In case you’re wondering, why the persistent writing about Vince Rawl in recent weeks on Twitter and Facebook?
This is a brief explanation, and points out the bj-league’s complete lack of professionalism in dealing with this matter in a respectable way. (Now, on 8/26, there’s an update on the league site. Actually, Rawl’s name is no longer there, but no mention that he died.)
What follows was first published on June 10 in the bj-league notebook in The Japan Times.
Signficant oversight: Vince Rawl, who passed away April 23 at age 50, is still listed as a league adviser on the league website’s English page.
He lost an eight-month battle with cancer and died in Texas. A prominent businessman, Rawl had been a co-owner of the Oita HeatDevils and a league partner, first beginning an association with Oita in 2007. He has not been involved in team decisions for the past few seasons, though.
Commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi’s message after Rawl’s death, was posted on Legacy.com on April 26.
Here is that message:
Dear Mr. Vincent Rawl,
Your deep and warm heart always encouraged us to go forward and start new things. Without your support and encouragement we would have never been able to bring so many Japanese kids to the U.S. to play basketball with American kids. Even though we cannot see you, your memory and your influence lives on. We will think of you forever.
Our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and associates of Mr. Rawl.
The fact that the bj-league hasn’t issued a press release or posted news on its website about Rawl’s death and his contributions to the league disturbs some longtime observers. And it defies common sense.
“You know, I don’t know why there wasn’t an announcement, either,” one hoop insider wrote in an email to The Japan Times. “Has the league forgotten that Mr. Rawl almost literally saved the league in 2007? He gave them $3.5 million when the league was about to flame out.”
Rawl’s longtime business associate and basketball agent Jerald Wrightsil, who also resides in Austin, Texas, offered his thoughts on Rawl’s involvement with the bj-league in an exclusive interview with The Japan Times. He said Rawl’s contributions were even greater than the above source stated.
“Vince had great aspirations for Japanese basketball and he put his money where his mouth was in that respect by investing over $5 million of his own towards the game there,” Wrightsil said. “He didn’t have a political agenda, and it can be argued that he didn’t have a financial motivation as his investment hasn’t blossomed to date. But his dream was a unified league in Japan, not the JBL vs. bj-league He just wanted the best to play the best.
“It’s not known to the public but at one point Vince wanted to donate his stock towards raising funds for the earthquake/tsunami victims. This never happened but he loved the people there that much.”
Now, Wrightsil hopes to keep Rawl’s passion for sports alive by staging a charity event in the fall.
He explained the idea this way:
“My proposal, in his honor, is to play a preseason ‘friendly invitational’ . . . the Lawrence V. Rawl Invitational to be held in September of 2011. This invitational will take the Nos. 1 and 2 teams of the JBL vs. Nos. 1 and 2 teams of the bj League. … All of the funds raised will be donated to the victims of the earthquake/tsunami/Fukushima incident and a Japanese cancer research foundation in Vince’s name — similar to the Jimmy V Classic (in the United States)
“This is a great cause for people not remotely associated with the politics of basketball, JABBA (Japan Basketball Association), or sports. This would benefit those displaced, hungry, suffering from a natural disaster and cancer.
“The bj-league has agreed, in private with me, to participate in such an event but the issue will be to convince the JBL and JABBA,” he continued. “I think that the death of Vince and the incidents are somewhat helpful in getting these guys past the crap that keeps inhibiting the game there.”