Years active: 1947-1948
Career stats: 3 G, 2.3 PPG
The same year that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, Wataru Misaka became the first non-caucasian to play in the NBA. A staff sergeant during WWII, Misaka faced discrimination for his Japanese ethnicity during the war with Japan. After he was discharged, he finished his collegiate playing career at the University of Utah, and was selected by the Knicks in the 1947 Draft.
Misaka's run in the NBA was short lived—he was cut after scoring seven points in three games, and never receieved a full explaination as to why. Critical observers might point to his race, but Misaka thought it was for a basketball reason: The Knicks had too many guards on the roster, and coming in at 5'7" and 150 lbs, Misaka wasn't exactly a physical specimen full of long-term potential. Three years after Misaka debuted, the first black players were drafted, signed, and played in the NBA. The league would go another 40 years before the next Asian player would touch an NBA court.