Michael Takahashi Dorsey (6-6, forward, 1974) was born in Japan from a Japanese mother and an American father. The family moved to California when he was 2 and in California he learned how to play basketball, dreaming of Magic, Kareem and Worthy. He attended and played college basketball at California State at Northridge before crossing the Ocean to play professional basketball in Japan, where he joined the National Team and where he has been one of the most consistent and respected players for more than a decade. Michael talked to BT columnist Dr FingerRoll about his career thus far.
Michael, you were born in Japan but moved to the States when you were a two years old little baby. How did you first fall in love with the game of basketball and do you have any childhood memories that are basketball-related?
My first real memories of basketball were growing up in Los Angeles and watching the Lakers in the 80's win championships. I remember watching Magic, Kareem, and Worthy compete with a intense will to win. I can recall watching playoff games as a kid and getting so nervous during crunch time that I would have to leave or cover my eyes because I just couldn't watch. After the game was over I would go outside and practice moves on the street signs and on the trees faking like they were baskets. Great memories!!
You had a very good college career. Was the NBA in your dreams during the college years and have you ever had a opportunity to play in the League?
I started playing organized basketball at a pretty late age, not till I got to high school did I have access to a gym and coaching. As a result I was a late bloomer. Everybody dreams of playing in the NBA but my skills were very limited in college. I was really athletic but pretty much played the power forward position at 6-6. Not really the ideal height for an NBA PF. When I got to Japan I really tried to develop my skills and starting playing the small forward position but I was in a great place and loved what I was doing so I didn't pursue the NBA as hard as I probably should have.
Like you said, after college you went to play in Japan. We're talking about 15 years ago. How was basketball in Japan in those days? And can you briefly tell our readers how did the game develop through the years?
Throughout my career in Japan I've seen basketball have its high time and lows. I think the development of the Japanese players has increased. More players are trying to go overseas and play in the NBA summer league which you didn't really see when I first got to Japan. This can only help their development. When I first came to Japan we were on the verge of participating in some major international championships. We almost made the Olympics which would've been great for our sports growth but since it didn't happen basketball took a back seat to some of the other sports that were doing well in international competition. I feel now with our National Team improving and the players gaining experience, it will help the growth of the sport.
You played for the Japanese NT at the World Cup in 1998 and in other main international events. Tell us something about the experience with the NT and playing against the world's best.
Playing for the NT has been one of the most rewarding parts of playing basketball for me. I was able to travel the world and experience many different cultures which I believe help me grow as a person. Being able to compete against the world's best was fulfilling because I got a chance to test my skills and see how I measured up. It also opened my eyes to all the talent the world has to offer. There are so many good basketball players not playing in the NBA that many people may not have heard of. It's definitely an experience I would trade for nothing.
For those that haven't seen you play, could you describe the player Michael Takahashi Dorsey on the court?
Me as a player now is very different than me as a player 15 years ago. At the core I'm the same player, I have the same intense desire to win. I will do anything I can to help my team win. Gone are the dynamic dunks replaced by old veteran moves. Individual accomplishments and awards mean nothing to me if team success is not accomplished. I love to compete!! That's why I still play. To have the chance to bring my team on the court against yours and see who's better prepared and who will execute their game plan. That's why I play.
And who's Michael Takahashi off the court as a person?
My life now is my family! I have a beautiful wife and two young kids. Everything I do now is for them. I try to set a good example for my kids to see and try to be the best husband and father I can be. I'm just trying to be a good man!
You're 36 and approaching the end of your career. What are your plans for the future?
After I finish playing I would love to be able to do something with my basketball experience. Coaching or clinics, working with kids trying to teach them the things I've learned over my career. Honestly though my future changes all the time. The possibilities are endless! I'm excited and nervous about what life after basketball is going to be like. I've been a basketball player for a very long time. I feel very blessed!!
Thank you for talking to us and best of luck for your season with Toyota Alvark.