TRANSCENDING - THE WAT MISAKA STORY is a documentary film about Wat Misaka, the first person of color to be drafted into what is now the NBA. A Nisei who was born, raised and is still living in Utah, he was the very first draft pick of the New York Knicks, in 1947. Overcoming the national political climate during World War II, Wat was a star player for the University of Utah 1944 and 1947 championship teams, taking 2 years off in between to serve in the U.S. Army. His perseverance and loyalty to his teammates, other Nisei friends (including those interned at Topaz) and his family are a testament to the unflappable Japanese American spirit.
This film includes in depth interviews with Wat and his family, teammates from his championship teams (including All-American star Arnie Ferrin of the Minneapolis Lakers) sports authorities (including Knicks Historian Dennis D'Agostino and ubiquitous New York sportscaster Spencer Ross), and many who continue to look up to him as both a role model and personal hero. The film also has video clips from his 1944 and 1947 college games, rare footage from a visit to the Topaz Internment Camp, and countless photos of his triumphant career.
Directed by award winning filmmakers Bruce Alan Johnson and Christine Toy Johnson, this project was awarded two consecutive grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.