A few years in hiatus—succumbing through the battling injuries that immobilized their journey to greatness in the Asian basketball circuit—they’re back, stronger than ever, and ready to dethrone any adversaries on their way back to the top. No longer in a dormant phase, fueled by their passion for the love of the game; their quest is to be the best, and this very notion is their motto that’s driving their ongoing success. So, let us call this their redemption period to reclaim the title as champs once more. I am pleased and ecstatic to present to you team Dynasty!
Past rumors of their departure from the sport, as well as the team’s disband without a leader or captain was a misconstrued notion, falsely stated by unknown facts. To clear their name, I caught up with team captain/coach Alex Lee who gave me his side of the story behind their inactive period with the sport, in addition to his accounts of the team’s goals for the future—in seizing the coveted J4th title—and taking the rightful throne of being the number 1 Asian basketball team in the Midwest.
A one liner that best describes their goal was said and quoted from the non-fictional hero character in the movie called “Talladega Nights: The Ballads of Ricky Bobby”: “If you ain’t number 1, you’re last” – Ricky Bobby –
Jerry: How did you get started in playing ball, and who influenced you to get started in this specific sport?
Alex: The first time I picked up a basketball was when I was in the seventh grade. At that time, most of my friends and peers were more interested in playing soccer or volleyball. I’ve always wanted to be different from others, so I decided to take on the challenge of playing basketball. No one had a major influence on my decision to play basketball, other than my motivation to be different. I never had cable growing up so I wasn’t exposed to much of the televised NBA games. Also, the neighborhood that I lived in when I first picked up the sport didn’t have many kids around to play with. So I pretty much taught myself the game with the help of my “imaginary friend/opponent.” I’d spend a couple of hours everyday shooting hoops after school at a local outdoor basketball court by myself. I didn’t start playing organized basketball until I was in the eighth grade after enrolling at Trinity Lutheran in Oshkosh, WI. I remembered while playing in my first game my coach called out from the sideline instructing me to “box out.” That was the first time I have ever heard that term. For those that don’t know what “box out” means; it’s when you’re supposed to prevent your opponent from getting a rebound by holding them off with your body. After failing to box out, I was quickly placed on the bench by my coach. After playing my first season of organized basketball that’s when I realized that there was more to the sport than shooting and dribbling.
Jerry: How did the name “DYNASTY” come about, in addition is there a story behind the name?
Alex: The original players on Dynasty started off with me, my two younger brothers, a friend of mine and his two younger brothers. It so happened that we were all Lees. We wanted a team name that would represent family, brotherhood, friendship, unity and teamwork. After coming up with a few names, we agreed on Dynasty. There really wasn’t a story behind the name other than a group of brothers and friends wanting to unite as one.
Jerry: It has been a few years since hearing about the indomitable Dynasty’s quest for the championship crown during the National July 4th tournament; you guys have been in a stagnant phase for the past few years, to all your fans out there, what are your plans to redeeming yourself and reclaiming the throne?
Alex: Our team’s plans to redeeming ourselves and reclaiming the throne have slowly started with the reconstruction of our new team. Our original team, which consisted of only Hmong players, was able to dominate against teams with players shorter than 6 feet. The majority of our losses and competition came from teams with players taller than 6 feet. Our original team’s average height was around 5 feet 8 inches. It’s hard to compete against teams that are taller, even though they may not be as talented as our team. That is why I’ve decided that if our team wanted to compete again in tournaments we would have to convert from a Hmong team to a more diverse Asian team. It’s hard to find Hmong talents above 5 feet 8 inches. They’re either too slow or clumsy. Our new team consists of a few Lao players, two of which is 6 feet. Our redemption started after winning the Fosho Productions’ Fall League in 2008. After winning and playing together as Dynasty again, we saw the potential that our team could dominate once again. With new players comes with a new attitude. I can’t guarantee that this year our team will reclaim the throne, but our team has made changes towards that goal.
Jerry: Training and conditioning can be hard in the brutal Minnesota weathers, how does team Dynasty keep in shape and fit for future games in addition how many times does your team practice on a weekly basis?
Alex: To be honest, our team never really practiced. Maybe, a pickup game here and there, but never a team practice where we would work on our plays or on our conditioning. It’s hard to gather ten players to practice on a set time and location. Every individual player has his own priorities and responsibilities besides basketball. Basketball is not our number one priority. In forming this team, I carefully observe and select players who would fit in our system. I make sure all players on the team know their roles and position. In carefully selecting players and letting each individual player understand their roles and position on the team, it has helped build our team chemistry. In the future, I would like to schedule one or two team practices per week. Our team is able to win without practice, but with practice I know our team can dominate.
Jerry: There are many rivalries in the basketball Asian Circuit here in Minnesota, which team(s) do you see as an obstacle and why?
Alex: There isn’t one particular team that I would consider our rival. Any team that tries to stop us from achieving our goal is considered our rival; whether that’s winning a pickup game or a major tournament. Our team takes winning seriously. Losing is not an option!
Jerry: Where would you rank Dynasty as a Hmong basketball team, nationally, if there were a ranking system and why?
Alex: I would rank the original Dynasty team as the number one Hmong team in the Midwest. I can’t rank us nationally because the furthest our team has traveled to compete were Wisconsin and Michigan. Not to brag, but most Hmong teams we played against were never really able to compete with us. The majority of our losses and competition came from diverse Asian race teams due to their height advantage.
Jerry: Hmong basketball players are best known for their speeds and their great shooting abilities, but sometimes seem to be cut short due to their undersized stature, where do you see basketball in the future for the Hmongs?
Alex: I think basketball is slowly dying in the Hmong community. Everyone seems to be converting to or sticking with soccer, volleyball, or football. Basketball is not a simple game to adapt. You can’t expect to pick up a basketball and make a basket consistently or dribble the ball between your legs. Unlike other sports in the Hmong community, basketball doesn’t get much exposure or publicity, which is probably because most basketball tournaments are held indoors. Basketball tournaments are small compared to other sport tournaments because an indoor basketball court can only occupy a limited number of people. Whereas for outdoor sport tournaments there is no limit to the people who could attend. Also, it’s hard to get the younger generation involved in the sport if they have never seen the game played live and experience the atmosphere in a tournament setting. I remember when I first entered the Asian basketball scene I thought I was the first Hmong player to play this sport. After playing in my first tournament I’ve learned that there were many that played before me. Basketball is a fun sport to play. With more exposure and publicity I know the younger generation would be more involved.
Jerry: Many sports players have superstitious theories behind some of the things they do which may sometimes generate good or bad vibes to their performance during game time, is there any ritual that you and/or your team partakes in before the start of any game?
Alex: I have a few rituals, but what I could share with you is before the start of every game, I would gather our team into a huddle and I will give a pep talk to motivate the players and get them hyped up.
Jerry: I understand that 2 of your brothers play alongside with you on team Dynasty and from a personal perspective growing up, this could be a boosting advantage or disadvantage; how does this play a factor in controlling the game or hindering the game?
Alex: Being able to play alongside with my two younger brothers is definitely more of an advantage than a disadvantage. The unique thing about us is that we all play different roles on our team. I’m the leader and play maker; Chianline is the defensive stopper and hustle type of player, while Zhao is the main scorer on our team. With these different traits that we bring to our team we usually never bud heads. Basketball has bonded us and brought us closer together as a family and team. When one of us is having a bad game the other two will try to cheer and motivate that player. Also, when things go wrong on the court we could yell at each other and none of us would take it personally. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jerry: Fosho Production is known for taking the next step for creating basketball leagues for the Hmong community, how did you feel and what were some of your thoughts from playing at the Target Center for the league’s championship?
Alex: Playing at the Target Center alongside with my teammates was a dream come true. Growing up, like most kids, while shooting hoops on an outdoor playground court you always dreamt of playing on an indoor professional court. When I heard that the league’s championship game would be played at the Target Center I was ecstatic. I remembered while walking up to the court to warm up before the game, I had chills throughout my whole body. I couldn’t feel my legs and my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. What made me more nervous were the family, friends, fans and spectators that showed up to watch the championship game. Playing and winning the championship at the Target Center had to be one of the most memorable achievements I’ve had playing this game I love.
Jerry: What are your goals and hobbies besides basketball?
Alex: One of my main goals is to finish my undergraduate degree in the fall of 2009. I really don’t have any time as of now for any other hobbies besides basketball. I can barely find time for basketball because most of my free time is spent studying. Once I’m done with school I would like to pick up on a few new hobbies to keep myself busy and active.
Jerry: There are gossips and rumors that team Dynasty no longer exist and that the team has broken up, what is your response to these rumors and is it true?
Alex: No, our team never broke up; our team just took a break from basketball to concentrate on other priorities such as school and family. As much as we love playing this game, basketball is only a game to us; it’s not our life.
Jerry: Injury can be costly to your game play when on the road to a championship game, has there been a time when injury has affected your game or cause you not to play?
Alex: I tore my meniscus in my left knee while playing a pickup game at a local gym. I needed to have surgery on my knee to repair the damage ligament. Ever since tearing my knee, my game has never been the same. I became a step slower on the basketball court and lost my confidence in my ability to compete. Confidence plays a big role in my game because I play on emotion. It has been a few years since my surgery and now my knee is finally feeling a little bit stronger. With exercise and conditioning I’m hoping to get back to my normal playing days form.
Jerry: With a deep bench and players who wants playtime, is there a coach or team captain making decisions in the rotation of players in the game and pulling players out when players are ineffective during game time?
Alex: You can refer to me as our coach and team captain. I come up with our team plays and I have the final say in what our team does. As for substituting in and out of the game, we have our five starters who will get the majority of the playing time. Each starter will substitute out once either in the first or second half of the game. Our team as of now consists of ten players, but usually only eight will play. Playing time will only go to players who are effective while they’re in the game.
Jerry: Team Dynasty has been on the upper echelon of the Hmong basketball circuit in the Midwest, are there any thoughts of traveling and competing nationally in other states such as California?
Alex: Yes, definitely! After winning a few more tournaments and building our status, we would like to consider getting some sponsorship to help with travel expense to compete in other states out of the Midwest.
Jerry: Any notable mentions or M.V.P. you’d like to recognize here throughout your tenure playing with team Dynasty that has helped the team maintains as one of the top teams in the Midwest?
Alex: Two players I would like to recognize during my tenure playing on team Dynasty will have to be my two younger brothers, Chianline and Zhao. Both of them have stepped up and expanded their game to another level and have shown potential as leaders. They have definitely been able to lead and rally the team to win many games while I was absent due to my knee injury. They have surpassed all my expectations as a player and person; I am extremely proud to call them my teammates and brothers. They deserve as much recognition for our team’s success as any other player.
Jerry: Please list all players name and position for all who doesn’t know you guys.
Jerry: Is there anything you’d like to ask us at Hmoodle.com or would you like to give any shout outs to anyone out there?
Alex: I would like to thank Hmoodle for the opportunity to be featured on your website. I like the concept behind this website and I look forward to seeing it grow. I wish Hmoodle the best. Our team would also continue to support and promote Hmoodle. I would also like to thank our fans and supporters, especially my dad who has never missed a tournament. We truly appreciate all of your support. Our team will continue to do our best to not let any of you down. I hope to see you all again at our next tournament. Last but not least, I would like to thank my teammates for their dedication and sacrifice. Our team has the potential to be a great team as long as we stay committed.
An interrogation it was. And I’d like to thank Mr. Alex Lee for taking the painstaking assignment in answering the relentless questions that I sent to him. I want to thank you and your team for participating in this month’s query. I’m glad that no one got hurt in the process, and while writing this I accidentally sprained my right wrist—just kidding—although, it could happen with the right imagination. Good luck, team Dynasty in your future endeavors for the J4th national title because I know the group’s talent won’t disappoint us.
To all you ballers out there who’d like to get a future feature on our site, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at [email protected] Like many times before, a coy demeanor isn’t going to get you anywhere, so hit me up, peace!