Bambam Labalan (TV5 Dub)
Neil Yu (GMA Dub) |
|Aliases||The Basketball Genius
King of Rebound
Foul Out King
Red Haired Monkey
The Savior of Basketball
|Height||190 cm (6'3)|
|Weight||85 kg (187 lbs)|
|Year||Year 1 Class 7|
|Manga Debut||Chapter 1|
|Anime Debut||Episode 1|
|Japanese Voice||Takeshi Kusao|
|English Voice||Robert Tinkler|
Bambam Labalan (TV5 Dub)
Neil Yu (GMA Dub)
|Italian Voice||Diego Sabre|
|[v · t · e]|
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Personality
- 3 Plot
- 3.1 Introduction to Shohoku High Basketball Team
- 3.2 Practice Game vs Ryonan High
- 3.3 Shohoku High Brawl and Final Line-up Formation
- 3.4 Elimination Round
- 3.5 Final League
- 3.6 Interhigh
- 4 Abilities
- 5 Relationships
- 6 Family
- 7 Quotes
- 8 Trivia
In his initial appearance, Sakuragi had short, distinctive, pompadour styled red hair with fringes at the center of his forehead, and brown eyes. After his loss against Kainan, he shaved his hair semi-bald as a vow that Shohoku will never lose again.
He wears a dark blue standard Shohoku winter school uniform from his initial appearance until their match against Shoyo. Later, he wears a white short sleeve loose shirt until he swaps to a white short sleeve openly loose button shirt.
During basketball training, Sakuragi wears a blue tank top, tucked into his white shorts, and his white running shoes with two blue linings. After his running shoes are destroyed in the end of the practice match against Ryonan, he first wore the Air Jordan 6 - "White Infrared" colorway. However, it also got broke due to his feet size increasing together with his height so he was forced to buy another one. This time, he bought the iconic Air Jordan 1 - "Bred" colorway, which was a great pick to match Shohoku's team color. Later, the color of his tank top was changed to black. His basketball jersey uniform is red and black and alternately red and white.
When he was still at Wakou Junior High School, Sakuragi's uniform was olive green, but in later flashbacks when he fought other delinquents from other schools, his uniform was purple.
Throughout the manga, he is very short-tempered, boisterous, arrogant, aggressive, rude, and immature. He begins regarding himself as a "genius" even though he has not learned any skills.
He can also be regarded as a 'cheap-shot artist', from slide tackles, tripping and not dribbling the basketball against Takenori, to low-blows and headbutts against members and captain of judo club, despite being unaware that both are regarded as illegal fouls in the respective sports. He redeems himself by copying Takenori's standing rear naked choke (sleeper hold) after Takenori was dunked on his head, then choked Sakuragi afterwards. Sakragi ends the battle with an over-the-shoulder throw, a highly advanced and powerful maneuver.
He also prided himself as the "Rebound King" when his rebounding ability had just started to surface, which was accepted and considered as valid. His most recognizable trait is his red hair, which he shaves as reparation for an error that led to a loss in the interhigh tournament against Kainan.
Despite his violent nature and rude personality, Sakuragi has a soft spot for girls and is extremely vulnerable and sensitive to them. This was seen when he was unable to defend himself from Rukawa fan girls' provocations and insults. While talking with girls, Sakuragi always speaks in a formal and polite way. He also uses honorifics, as he always addresses Haruko as "Haruko-san", which is a way to address a person of higher status.
He is also a simple-minded and naive person. After their loss in the practice match against Ryonan, he felt a bit depressed. However, as soon as Haruko began to compliment him for his hard efforts in the match, he immediately returned to his senses. Another time, when Miyagi explained fakes in basketball, he showed amazement and described it as terrifying for deceiving opponents. His naivety and simple judgement earned him the nickname of "Simpleton King".
He is not the type to accept losses. His persistence started to get into Fukuda when he was totally outplayed at the first half of their game, though it was settled during the practice match against the combined team of Shoyo and Ryonan.
Sakuragi has a habit of making fun of other players by giving nicknames. He calls Akagi "Gorilla" or "Gori" (a nickname that catches on, much to Akagi's irritation), Uozumi "Boss monkey", Kiyota "Wild monkey", Maki "Uncle" or "Senior", Masahiro "Totem pole", Masashi Kawata "Bald Gori", Mikio Kawata "Meatball", Miyamasu "Alien" and Fujima "substitute" or "bench warmer". Despite this, the only one doing the same thing to Sakuragi is Kiyota who calls him "red haired monkey". The only one who was not given a nickname by him is Kaede Rukawa whom he considers his rival in basketball and love. However, he does sometimes calls him a "fox" or "sleeping fox" due to his sleepy nature.
In spite of the setbacks he has had to face, Sakuragi displays a great deal of tenacity and determination that carry him through and helps compensate for his failings, both on and off the court. He also knows how to carry the will of others. These was shown when he told Kogure of postponing his retirement for a while because of him, who is a genius.
As a basketball player, he became a person with a great determination and resolve. Sakuragi began to gain respect from the audience during his dunk against Shoyo, and during the match against Sannoh, when he saved the ball from going out of bounds and injured his back, making the audience cheer for Shohoku. They managed to win everyone's heart with his determination and resolve. His determination to keep playing despite the back injury was the main factor for Shohoku's victory against Sannoh.
Although his love for Haruko and rivalry with Rukawa are the main driving forces motivating him to succeed in basketball, his injury during the Sannoh match made him realize that he has actually come to love basketball, leading him to give his all for the team and bring them victory.
Sakuragi used to be nothing more than a high school delinquent, who knows only how to fight, and is unpopular with girls, as he ended up rejected often. His comrades Yohei, Ohkusu, Nozomi and Noma always tease him for his rejections, in which they end up receiving headbutts. Sakuragi also hated basketball, because the 50th girl that rejected him, was in love with a basketball player; considering it to be a game of losers. A tall, hyperactive but angry teenager with zero luck in girls. After getting his feelings turned down exactly 50 times in his previous school, He was simply fed up. With ember Red hair and muscular physique, he thought his chances of finding someone were slim.
Introduction to Shohoku High Basketball Team
One day, a friendly girl named Haruko Akagi approached him and asked him if he likes basketball, Sakuragi immediately falls in love with her and decided to play basketball to please her. She showed him the way around the gym, Haruko informs him about the slam dunk, one of the most exiting and epic moves in basketball. After noticing that he can palm the ball, Haruko asked him to attempt to slam dunk the ball, which the latter does by hitting his head into the backboard. Even though he missed his shot, Haruko was impressed by his jump, and convinced him to join the basketball team. Sakuragi is overjoyed after he found a new love, but his happiness is short-lived when he found out that Haruko is in love with a guy named Kaede Rukawa, a talented basketball player back in junior high, which left him once again heartbroken.
Later, Sakuragi and his gang are challenged by a group of third-year students for a fight. Once arriving in the roof, they found the students already beaten by a high school student who turned out to be Rukawa, the guy that Haruko has a crush on. Sakuragi, overwhelmed with anger and jealousy, introduces himself to Rukawa. Haruko, eventually arrives at the scene and notices that Rukawa is bleeding. Believing Sakuragi is responsible for her crush's injuries, Haruko insulted the latter, saying "I hate you!" After Rukawa coldly rejected Haruko's help, Sakuragi headbutted Rukawa this time for hurting her feelings. Haruko left him emotionally heartbroken, and he tried to commit suicide only to be halted by his comrades.
On his way, he met two basketball players as he headbutted both, until he met Takenori Akagi, who punches the two players' heads and Sakuragi smashed him with the basketball in his face, insulting basketball, which enrages Akagi to challenge him in a 1-on-1 handicap match. Sakuragi is easily outmatched by Akagi who scored 9 baskets, until Haruko intervenes and urged Sakuragi to stop embarassing himself. Mistaking that she is cheering for him, Sakuragi managed to snatch the ball from Akagi, and tearfully regained his senses after Haruko really cheered for him. Sakuragi eventually won the match by a slam dunk, and reconciled with Haruko. Sakuragi began to humorously mock Akagi until he realized that he is in fact Haruko's older brother. After that, Sakuragi officially joins the basketball team in order to compete with Rukawa and earn Haruko's love.
However, he is completely a beginner and had to learn the basics such as dribbling, much to his annoyance. After a week, Sakuragi got into a fight with Akagi, because he couldn't take the pressure of doing a lot of basics so he decided to quit basketball. However, Sakuragi rethinks about his previous decision, and realized that he wanted to return once again. Swallowing his pride, he eventually returns to the team and Kiminobu Kogure suggested that he should learn something other than dribbling. Akagi agreed and gave another basic training of passes. While Sakuragi was at first annoyed, but nevertheless he accepted it with joy.
Some time later, a judo man called Tatsuhiko Aota, a childhood friend of Akagi and a guy who also has a crush on Haruko, wanted to recruit Sakuragi for the judo team because of his athleticism and his brute strength. He even went far into using Haruko's pictures as a way of bribery to lure him into entering the Judo club but Sakuragi ultimately refused. He told Aota that he's going to play basketball because he is a basketball player. Motivated by his words, Akagi decided to teach Sakuragi layups. Unfortunately, Sakuragi found it boring, calling it a commoner's shot. However, he found himself unable to score even one and ended up fighting with Rukawa, which results in Akagi suspending them from practice. The day after, Sakuragi went to the baskteball court practicing layup, but with no result. He is eventually found by Haruko and offered to teach him layups since it was the only move she was good at. After several attempts, Sakuragi realized its trick and succeeded in scoring his frst layup, much to his happiness not only at scoring a layup but the training with Haruko. After Anzai informs the team of their incoming practice match against Ryonan High, Sakuragi spent the night before the match with Akagi, learning how to rebound.
Practice Game vs Ryonan High
The day of the match, Sakuragi was angry at first because he wasn't selected as a starter but Coach Anzai reassured him that he will play because he is their "secret weapon". During the practice match and the start of 2nd half, Sakuragi demonstrates his troublemaking antics such as injecting Coach Taoka's butt, changing the teams' scores and overhearing Coach Taoka's plans for the game as well as personally confronting Akira Sendoh who laughs at his troublemaking antics. All those antics led into Akagi angrily punching him in the head and take him back to the bench.
After Akagi got injured in the face, Sakuragi entered in his place. He was nervous for the first time at his surroundings as well as injuring Uozumi from falling into the ground. A kick from Rukawa caused him to regain himself. He amazed everyone in the court by his skills despite being a beginner, as he successfully took the ball from Uozumi and outrebounded him. He even managed to block Sendoh's shot and scored his first 2 points with a layup despite over jumping the rim for a dunk. In the end, Shohoku lost the match after Sendoh scored the decisive points. Refusing to accept loss, Sakuragi wanted to keep playing, but his running shoes were completely worn out. The next day, he was completely depressed of his loss until Haruko comforts him and praised him for his efforts, quickly regaining his usual self. Haruko suggested that Sakuragi should buy basketball shoes. After school, Sakuragi went with Haruko to buy his shoes, believing it to be a date, much to his happiness.
Shohoku High Brawl and Final Line-up Formation
Sakuragi met Ryota Miyagi, another member of Shohoku, well-known for his speed and quickness as a point guard. At first they were at bad terms, because Miyagi believed Sakuragi was dating Ayako, his crush. But soon, they found friendship, after realizing how both of them are unlucky in love. Later, Shohoku were confronted by Hisashi Mitsui and his gang, who forced them to fight his gang, so they will be disqualified to enter the tournament. After Sakuragi and his gang defeated Mitsui and his gang, it was revealed that Mitsui was once a basketball player, formerly MVP who quitted because of his leg injury. After Mitsui redeemed himself that he wanted to play Basketball thanks to Anzai's call, Shohoku finally achieved completed their selection of members.
The road to the Interhigh has finally began for Shohoku. During the first matches, Sakuragi used to be the worst player of Shohoku, as he was known for fouling out during each game. During 4 games, he fouled out with a total of 20 fouls, which earned him the nickname of "King of Fouls". Despite that, Shohoku managed to easily win these 4 matches. The 5th match was against Shoyo High , who was considered as the 2nd representative of Kanagawa last year. During this match, Sakuragi was for the 1st time selected as a starter in this match. he played a major role in this match, scoring his first 2 points under a layup, outrebounding Toru Hanagata who is considered as a strong rebounder for Shoyo, and in the end scored an epic dunk, much to everyone's surprise. Unfortunately, the dunk was invalid due to the offensive foul and Sakuragi was once again fouled out for the 5th time. But neverthless, he gained respect from the audience for his determination. Eventually Shohoku managed to defeat Shoyo with a score to 62-60. After the match, Sakuragi was at first frustrated due to fouling out, but after dunking the ball at the gym, Sakuragi realized that he is improving a bit and Haruko managed to light up his mood by telling him that he became famous, showing him a newspaper where Sakuragi's dunk was shown on it.
Vs Kainan High
After defeating Shoyo, Shohoku's last round to enter the Interhigh has finally began, making it along with Ryonan, Takezato and the reigning Kainan High, the king of Kanagawa for 16 years and their first opponent. During this match, Sakuragi improved at such speeding rate, scoring against Nobunaga Kiyota under a layup, faking a shot and completely tricking him. He even managed to block Nobunaga and Soichiro Jin's 3-point shot. His rebounding prowress was also shown, which was a factor for Shohoku's scoring chances. He later challenged Shinichi Maki with a dunk, and the latter purposely fouled , aware that he can't make free throws. But to their surprise, Sakuragi scored his 2 free throws by shooting it underhanded. Sakuragi simply told him he will return the humiliation 10 times. Sakuragi finally managed to score his first dunk during the last minutes in the match. However, during the last seconds, Sakuragi made a mistake, passing the ball to Kazuma Takasago, whom he thought as Akagi, shocking him and the entire team. The match ended with Shohoku's first loss, and Sakuragi was left emotionally in tears, with Akagi consoling him.
The day after the match, he didn't show up at school, still depressed about his mistake, believing that he was responsible for his team's loss. Haruko showed up to comfort him, at first he refused to listen, but when she told him that his match will be unforgettable since he scored his first dunk and that even geniuses make mistakes, he felt a bit grateful to her, but still felt that he was at responsibility for his team's loss. On his way to the school's gym, he was initially challenged by Kicchou Fukuda by convincing one of his friends but only refuses by headbutting them due to his depression. At night, he went to the school's gym and encountered Rukawa who finished training, Sakuragi found how weird he is saying nothing about his loss, but Rukawa rebuffed at Sakuragi's protest, telling him his mistake won't affect the outcome of the match, and that his efforts were beyond everyone's expectations. Rukawa instead blames himself, since he couldn't continue the match because his explosive scoring strength took a toll on his stamina during the 1st half. Believing that Rukawa belittled him, the two engaged in a fight, blaming themselves for their team's loss.
The day after, Sakuragi returned to his former self in an unknown way, and to everyone's surprise, shaved his hair into a semi-bald, which made everyone especially his teammates to burst into laughter. However, all of his classmates including Mitsui's gang are always looking at Sakuragi's hair in which Anzai was impressed on his new look. For the incoming matches against Takezato and Ryonan; Akagi taught Sakuragi how to shoot under the basket, wanting him to be part of Shohoku's offense.
Vs Takezato high
Sakuragi showed up a bit late in the match against Takezato, due to practicing his shots the morning of the day of the match, but neverthless Shohoku managed to win without him. Despite the win, their coach, Anzai was later taken to the hospital due to a heart attack and Akagi discovers it was Sakuragi that rescued and took Anzai to the hospital, which causes him to remember the time when he was still a delinquent and tried to call for help because his father had a heart attack. However, he is forced to fight several delinquents from other schools, leaving his father to die from it. From that point, Sakuragi's reason of saving Coach Anzai is to not to meet the same fate as his father.
Vs Ryonan High
Shohoku's last opponent before entering the Interhigh was Ryonan. During the match, Sakuragi managed to suprise everyone once again with his fast growth. Firstly, he surprised Yayoi Aida and the referee of the match by making a basket interference foul, that was never made in a high school match before. Aida commented that his jumping ability is beyond high school level. Secondly, he suprised everyone when he scored the first two points of Shohoku under the basket, surprising both of Moichi Taoka of Ryonan and Riki Takato of Kainan. He even successfully blocked Uozumi's dunk, and scored a free throw underhanded. However, near the end of the first half, he was defeated by Kicchou Fukuda, unable to stop his alley-oop, and left him bleeding from his forehead after falling into the ground.
Sakuragi felt humiliated at his loss, but soon in the second half, he made the decision to help the team win the match after treating his forehead wound. He managed to score two points under the basket and 2 points under layup. He even managed to trick Uozumi into committing his fourth foul, forcing him to leave the court. Uozumi's absence weakened the defense of Ryonan, which greatly favored Akagi. During the last minutes, he successfully stopped Fukuda and Sendoh from scoring, and also blocked Uozumi, which surprised Taoka who disregarded him earlier as a threat. At the last play, Sakuragi scored a putback dunk as a finishing blow that completely sealed Shohoku's victory. The match finally ended with Shohoku winning, 70-66 and is qualified to the Interhigh tournament along with Kainan.
Prior to the Interhigh tournament, Sakuragi went along with Maki and Kiyota to see the level of opponents he is going to face in the tournament. He learns of Dai Moroboshi, the ace of Aiwa, and was interested in facing Hiroshi Morishige of Meioh, after he was knocked down by him when he purposely tried to bump into him. Some time after, Sakuragi challenged an ambitious Rukawa on a one-on-one match. Rukawa easily defeated him, which left him very shocked. However, he soon regained his senses, after Miyagi and Mitsui reminded him of his opponents in the tournament.
Before their training for the Inter High, Miyagi, Mitsui, Rukawa and Sakuragi became lacklusters because of their training which makes Akagi to let them stay at his house for their make-up exams with the help of Ayako and Kogure. Sakuragi can't focus too much due to Akagi's presence even pranking him by using a black permanent marker as retaliation. Only he could study hard when Haruko and Ayako are in his side. After that, the group passed the make-up exams. Sakuragi is revealed he got cheated with Aota during the exams and his reason to pass it.
10 days before the Interhigh tournament, Anzai taught Sakuragi the concept of shooting by making him shoot 20,000 jump shots and as a way of favor for rescuing him when he suffered a heart attack. Sakuragi, along with the support of Haruko, his gang friends and Anzai successfully completed his training. His intensive training left his basketball shoes worn out, so he had to go along with Haruko to buy new basketball shoes, much to his happiness. When he bought his second pair, the owner of the basketball shoes was actually a former basketball player and earned irritated Akagi's irritation for mispronouncing Shohoku's name 2 years ago. He even recognizes Haruko as his sister since he didn't recognizes her from the beginning when Sakuragi bought his first shoes. After buying his second shoes, Sakuragi along with the rest of Shohoku took the Shikansen to Hiroshima to enter the tournament. In the anime before they travel to Hiroshima, they were tested by the combined Shoyo and Ryonan players in a practice game as they demonstrated their heavy training in Shizuoka and Sakuragi's jump shot training by Anzai.
Vs Toyotama High
Shohoku, ranked as a C rank team faced their first opponent in the Inter High, who was Toyotama of Osaka that was ranked as an A ranked team. Shohoku managed to win against Toyotama with a score of 91-87, which Sakuragi scored 6 points, 2 of them being a jump shot, amazing his teammates and even Kainan.
The second round was against the strongest team and the defending champion for 3 years, Sannoh High. Everyone in Shohoku was feeling nervous about the strength of their opponent. Sakuragi realized that the crowd was only rooting for their opponent, so he challenged them with a dunk, jumping all the way from the free throw line, but ended up failing, much to his embarrasement. Neverthless, Masashi Kawata and Eiji Sawakita of Sannoh were impressed by his jumping ability. Kawata asked Sawakita if he can jump like him, which the latter replied that he can't. Shohoku regained its composure thanks to Anzai's inspiring words. Shohoku returned to the court, full of determination, and Sakuragi this time succeeded in his dunk, shocking everyone, and gave the ball to Sannoh, saying he was giving them a hello.
The match begins and the first one to score was Shohoku via Sakuragi's first alley-oop from Miyagi, shocking the crowd, Sannoh and every team that came to see the match. Sakuragi also scored accidentally with his face after Sawakita blocked Miyagi's layup and the ball hit Sakuragi's face, bouncing straight to the ring. As Shohoku is having the momentum in the first half, Goro Domoto, the coach of Sannoh sent Mikio Kawata against Sakuragi. At first, Sakuragi was having trouble against Mikio's weight and height advantage over him. However, thanks to Akagi's instructions, Sakuragi immediately realizes that Mikio can only score under the basket. Sakuragi instantly restrained his movements and managed to score twice over him, giving Shohoku the lead in the first half, 36-34.
In the second half, Sannoh showed their true strength, by easily dominating with a 24 point lead over Shohoku. Anzai subbed Sakuragi for Kogure. Sakuragi was angry at first because he believed that Anzai gave up on the game. Instead, Anzai explained to him that if Sakuragi grabs the offensive rebounds, their chance for a comeback will appear. Everyone on the bench, gave their confidence and faith in Sakuragi. After entering the court once again, a motivated Sakuragi stood on the top of the officials' table, and declared that he'll be the one to defeat Sannoh, which everyone laughed at. After returning to play, he told his teammates that they will not lose, and while his teammates taught how impossible that would be, Sakuragi simply told them that their common knowledge of basketball isn't working against him, because he is just a rookie.
Sakuragi was matched against Masahiro Nobe, a proud rebounder and is at least 10 centimeters taller than him. Against all odds, Sakuragi outwitted him and scored 4 points from 2 offensive rebounds and escapes a call from the referee. Miyagi calls them out to focus because the game won't come back on it's own. Eventually, Sakuragi outmatched Masahiro in rebounding with his explosive jumping from Akagi's miss. It was the start of Shohoku's rally for a comeback as Akagi regains his spirit and displays a great teamwork with Mitsui, who keeps shooting 3-pointers despite being a liability on defense. To stop the momentum, Domoto ordered Masashi Kawata to mark Sakuragi to stop his rebounding. He was pleased on the fact that Sannoh sent the best center of high school basketball just to stop him. Despite the latter's strong caliber, Sakuragi was able to hold up against the latter, as he successfully stopped his alley-oop and forced him to miss a shot after staying in the air for a long time. Kawata realized that he can't compete with him in terms jumping but rather in strength.
After Rukawa decided to start passing the ball to his teammates to give them a fighting chance, Sakuragi mentally told Rukawa to pass the ball to him. Rukawa successfully bypassing Sawakita was put to waste as Sakuragi accidentally crashed into him. Everyone thought Sakuragi got in his way but in reality, Sakuragi waited for a pass at 45 degrees to the right where his jump shots have a higher rate of success. When Sawakita bypassed Rukawa, Sakuragi managed to stop Sawakita by taking a charging foul against him. Sakuragi told Rukawa that all debts are solved.
During the last minutes of the match, Sakuragi made an epic play, throwing himself into saving the ball from going out of bounds and crashing on the sideline tables. Everyone was shocked at that moment and began to wonder if he was okay, since he showed no sign of movements. Eventually, he stood up, much to everyone's surprise. That play made the crowd cheer for Shohoku despite rooting for Sannoh at first. As soon as he resumed to play, Sakuragi noticed that his back is starting to hurt and worsens and as he keeps playing. After a timeout from Sannoh, Ayako noticed Sakuragi and asked if he was hurt, which he replied that his spine is hurting a bit, shocking Ayako. After realizing the nature of the injury, Ayako told Sakuragi that his injury concerns a player's life, which means that he may not be able to play basketball again. However, Sakuragi quickly rebuffed Ayako's thoughts, saying that he is immortal and that he should never be compared to a normal person. However, the pain grew stronger and even Kawata noticed his injury. He warned him not to push himself and think about his future but neverthless adds that he will not hold back once he is angry. Then, Akagi drew a foul from Kawata through a dunk attempt so Sakuragi's supposedly putback dunk is invalid, which shocked everyone. He finally collapsed from his injury, and was subbed out by Kogure.
While unconscious, Sakuragi began to wonder if this is really the end of his basketball life. He began to remember every moment and every achievement he accomplished since he started playing basketball. When he thought that it's finally over, he suddenly remembered Haruko's first words to him "Do you like Basketball?". Realizing his true feelings for basketball, Sakuragi immediately regained consciousness, held both of Haruko's shoulders, confessing to her his love for basketball, and indirectly somehow revealed his love for her as well. He tells her he isn't lying unlike the first time when he only said yes because of his love for her. The sudden confession made everyone surprised, while Haruko was blushing and was left speechless after hearing his confession.
Sakuragi immediately asked for a substitution, however Anzai cancelled the sub, telling Sakuragi how he noticed his injury, and didn't want Sakuragi to make a mistake that he'll regret it for the rest of his life. Sakuragi, determined to play, told Anzai that his days of glory are over and that right now is his time. He was also provoked by Rukawa to enter, after the latter purposely fouled to get him back on the court. Before entering, Sakuragi thanked Anzai and told him he was finally able to make his decisions to change the flow of the game. After entering, his teammates were worried about him, but quickly mocked them for being worried without him, much to their annoyance. Despite a killing pain in his back, Sakuragi encouraged his teammates once more to win the game.
Despite the injury, his performance was really crucial during the last minute of the game. He managed to block Mikio's shot, which led to Mitsui scoring a 3-point and one free throw due to being fouled. He continues to amaze everyone after successfully blocking Sawakita's dunk from behind. He also made the decisive pass to Rukawa after Kawata blocked the latter, passing the ball to him, choosing his love for basketball over his rivalry with Rukawa. This enabled Rukawa to score and take the lead. However, Sawakita quickly took the lead away with a pull-up fade away jumper. In the last two seconds, Rukawa passed the ball to Sakuragi, who scored the winning shot, much to everyone's shock.
The match ended with Shohoku defeating Sannoh by the score of 79-78. Sakuragi and Rukawa celebrated their victory together with a high five for the first time ever since but quickly resumes their rivalry once again. Yayoi Aida and her partner took picture of Shohoku, as it is the first team to defeat the champion Sannoh. However, their picture didn't make it into the next cover, as Sakuragi was sent into rehabilitation for his back injury and an exhausted Shohoku from their match against Sannoh easily lost to Aiwa in the 3rd round.
Aftermath and Rehabilitation
Sometime later, Sakuragi is on a beach while reading a letter from Haruko, who informed him of everyone's situation. He learned that Miyagi is the new captain; Shintai University's basketball scholarship to Akagi was withdrawn after their loss to Aiwa and she became the second manager of Shohoku. He was also pleased that Haruko's first job as a manager is to keep a weekly correspondence with him until his return. He learned from her that Rukawa became a member of All-Japan Junior Team. At the same time, he coincidentally encounters Rukawa training on the beach, showing him his All-Japan uniform. Sakuragi simply thought that Rukawa was chosen as his replacement because he is injured. Sakuragi's doctor arrived and told him that it was time for his treatment. She asked him if he can bears it, which the latter told her that it was a silly question. At the last part of her letter, she wished him good luck in his rehabilitation and that once he is finished, she'll be waiting for him. Sakuragi walked away, telling himself that he'll be waiting for the basketball he loves so much, because he is a Genius.
In Slam Dunk : 10 Days after, Sakuragi sent a letter to Haruko, informing her of his rehabilitation, and the fact that he is the Rehabilitation King, much to Haruko's joy. At the end of the chapter, Sakuragi is reading her returned letter, informed by everyone's situation once again. Haruko told the latter that she is desperately waiting for his return as the Rebound king once again. Then, his doctor approached him, and informed him of a Japanese player entering the NBA in America. While most people considers entering the NBA is impossible, she told Sakuragi that those who said it was impossible never tried the challenge for themselves. After Sakuragi was advised by his doctor to challenge a new level of rehabilitation, he told her that he will be the next one to go to America. When his doctor told him if he could make it, Sakuragi immediately told her that he can, because he is a Genius.
At first, he can only do dunks and layups but under Akagi's training, his rebounding prowess became the main support for the team, which earned him another nickname now known throughout all of the Kanagawa prefecture because of this, "The king of Rebounds". Then with Coach Anzai's training, he is able to finish 20,000 shots in a week to further improve his shooting range. Despite this, Mito notes that standing at 45 degrees to the right gives Sakuragi higher success rate at shooting jump shots.
Jumping Power and Rebounding
As seen and witnessed by Haruko and Hikoichi, the skills Sakuragi really excels at is his jumping, speed and power. Masashi Kawata of Sannoh notes that he has never seen a person with that kind of leg power. The height of his jump is incredibly high as noted by Coach Takato of Kainan High, as he was able to jump back to block Sawakita's dunk attempt and stop the alley-oop to Masashi, despite falling to the floor. His jumping ability makes him a formidable rebounder under the tutelage of Akagi. With this, he is more than enough to outrebound strong centers such as Toru Hanagata, Jun Uozomi and Masahiro Nobe of Sannoh. Coach Domoto was even forced to put Masashi Kawata into him just to stop him from rebounding. Despite the obstacle put upon him, he is still able to hold on to his rebounding against the big men of Sannoh, which was the starting key factor for Shohoku's comeback victory. On episode 75, he made up for his tendency to fall for fakes against Ryoji Ikegami, jumped on the fake, jumped again for hte block, then one last time for the rebound, all while Ikegami was making one jumpshot.
He gained his abnormal strength from his fights as a delinquent and some power training that hardened him before playing basketball. Akagi notes that Sakuragi is much stronger than Jun Uozumi of Ryonan despite being smaller. This was shown when he easily threw Koshino Hiroaki of Ryonan in their practice game, when the latter attempted to take the ball from him. He is also noted for being strong as Akagi says that in a battle of strength, no one can beat him. When he is and his gang came to Mitsui's rescue (though he never fought) against Ryu's gang, he easily stretched down the pipe held by one of Ryu's men. He is able to hold his own against Mikio Kawata who weighs 130 kg. He also has a powerful rip move to secure rebounds.
He is also an underrated playmaker. Initially, due to his disdain for, and opponent's focus to defend Rukawa, he tends to never pass to him, opting to set up Kogure instead. He is, however, not known to be an outlet passer.
Speed and Stamina
Beside his jumping power and strength, he is also fast as he can catch up to defend, combined with his large amount of stamina. These were tested when Totsuka Tetsuya of Ryokufu High School challenged him in a battle of speed. While he managed to outrun Sakuragi in the 1st half, he quickly tires out when Sakuragi continously ran faster in the 2nd half. Even Sendoh of Ryonan, considers Sakuragi's endless stamina as a huge threat, noticing that despite everyone nearing their limit in the second half, Sakuragi acts as if the match has barely started showing no sign of tiredness.
As a fighter, he can withstand great pain. He can withstand a rear-naked choke from Akagi without blacking out, and whacked by a broom without falling down, but Akagi's strength is still indefensible. He makes up for it by parrying his punches once he taps into his judo instincts.
Sakuragi has difficulty facing off against a weak opponent as he is unable to show his true skills and abilities. Mito notices this when Yoshinori Miyamasu of Kainan subs in as Sakuragi starts to miss shots. Another weakness of Sakuragi for the majority of the series is that his shooting presence was not highly accurate which changed just before the Nationals. He is also a weak on-ball defender and can easily fall for fakes, however, his athleticism somehow makes it up for it. His arrogance and daydreaming often causes the ball to hit his face while in a game, leaving him unaware of a pass. This is also the main reason he doesn't succeed in his plots and always end up being an embarrassment for the team.
As a fighter, not only is he not the strongest against being picked up and thrown by Akagi, his right eye is presumed to be his better eye, so when blood blocked his vision, he isn't able to fight through it against Tetsuo.
"I love it very much. This time I'm not lying."
Sakuragi's love for Haruko makes him a better player as well as a person throughout the series. However, she does not reciprocate his feelings until the end of the manga, when he is in rehabilitation due to his back injury during the match against Sannoh. He is initially taken aback by her big crush on Rukawa, but still tries to win her by motivating himself to learn more on basketball. Sakuragi always listens to her due to his deep affection for her, and Haruko never hesitates to help him when he is in trouble, and cheering him up when he's feeling depresed. Haruko's faith in Sakuragi's potentiel is what motivates the latter into improving his carrer as a Basketball player, as she believes he would be the savior of the basketball team. During the match against Sannoh, Sakuragi begin to remnicise everything he learned since he started playing basketball and begins to lament himself that his career may end because of his injury. Suddenly, he remembered the first reason he started playing basketball; when Haruko asked him if he likes basketball. Acknowledging that the first reason he played basketball was his love for her not for basketball itself, Sakuragi immediately regains consciousness and held both of Haruko's shoulders confessing his love for basketball, telling her he isn't lying this time; revealing both his love for basketball and indirectly his love for her at once, which made Haruko speechless, as she blushed from his sudden confession.
The relationship between the two began to improve after the end of the Interhigh Championship. While Sakuragi is in rehabilitation to recover from the injury from his back, Haruko begins to write him letters every week informing him of the team's situation. She encouraged Sakuragi to try his best to recover and once he's done with his rehabilitation, she'll be waiting for him, which generates a question if she started to have feelings for him or is just waiting for his return to the team.
Shohoku High Basketball Team
The two players are polar opposites of one another. The only similarity that they have is they're both not academically-inclined. Rukawa is pretty much what Sakuragi wants to be: Skillful in basketball and popular with women. The two dislike each other, as Sakuragi finds him a bitter rival in Basketball and Haruko whom she is interested in, while Rukawa finds him annoying and always gets irritated at his arrogance and immaturity, calling him "dou ahou" (idiot), which angers Sakuragi more. However, deep inside, Rukawa appreciates Sakuragi's hustle and determination to play, and knows that he can use his skills for better use instead of wasting his time against him. During their ultimate match against Sannoh, Rukawa intentionally fouled to have Sakuragi back in court. The two of them threw their dislike for each other aside during the match as Rukawa made a decisive pass to Sakuragi's victorious shot. The two of them celebrated their victory together with a significant high five, before resuming their rivalry once again.
Akagi is Haruko's older brother and the captain of the basketball team. Sakuragi's initial encounter with Takenori was terrible and awkward at first when he headbutted both players upon his arrival especially during the one-on-one basketball duel where Sakuragi embarassed him in shame and defeating him physically by shooting the ball in a slam dunk to knock him down until he realizes it was Haruko's older brother. Sakuragi does its best to apologize for his previous actions despite his faults as Takenori accepted his apology due to his sister's request. In every practice game or the entire basketball game whenever Sakuragi does his troublemaking antics to his teammates, other players from other schools especially coaches such as Moichi Taoka and showing his level of arrogance. Takenori is often seen punching directly on Sakuragi's head.
This also applies to Shinichi Maki from Kainan when he punches Kiyota's head whenever he does troublemaking antics and embarrassment towards his teammates. He also punches Sakuragi's head multiple times when he made a prank by putting a black mark all over his face using the black permanent marker. Overall, Sakuragi still respects him as Captain or addresses him as Gori.
The initial encounter between Miyagi and Sakuragi was horrible, as Miyagi beats Sakuragi when he mistakenly thought that he was dating his crush Ayako. It even became worse when thay found out that they are teammates of Basketball, as the two would always fight for trivial matters. However, they quickly overcame it after they found that that they share a lot in common; they have been rejected by girls quite often and decides to play basketball for the sake of their crushes. Since then, the two began to get along with each other, and became close friends. As Miyagi would often teaches Sakuragi the techniques of basket, and while on court the two of them would always team up to score decisive goals. He is the only person apart the Sakuragi gang to call him by his first name "Hanamichi", while Sakuragi calls him "Ryo-chin". In both English and Filipino Dub, Sakuragi calls him by his first name "Ryota".
Sakuragi has a few rivals in both anime and movies and his rivals are similar to his personality as well as his troublemaking antics and being fouled out in the game with the exception of both Oda and Fukuda who outplays him in the first half of the game against Ryonan.
Rango is the center player from Tsukubu High during the second movie. Rango meets Sakuragi after gaining a crush towards Haruko who practices basketball all by herself as he saves her ball by shooting the basketball dunk while in a motorcycle helmet. They started their rivalry when Sakuragi angrily headbutts him after seeing him had a crush on Haruko as he also headbutts him in retaliation after Sakuragi's friends discovered that Rango is able to withstand Sakuragi's headbutt just like both Rukawa and Akagi.
During the best of 8 game before facing Shoyo, He makes fun out of Sakuragi while he's on the bench and later when he replaces Kogure to play the game, He and Sakuragi are seen bickering when they wanted to face Rukawa after the latter calls them two idiots. In this game, Sakuragi got 22 rebounds and needs one more to break the record of most rebounds by a high school player until his 5th foul. His final rebound was called an offensive foul after knocking Rango to the ground so the record was not broken. In the end of the movie, Rango congratulates them for winning just as Haruko arrives to praise Sakuragi's team victory and ends up fighting each other in front of Haruko. In the anime series, Rango can be seen grunting when Sakuragi knocks him through the ground and gains him the fifth foul which it was seen in the second movie. Sakuragi also calls him as the "Golden-Haired Monkey" before team Tsukubu takes their timeout.
Oda is the center player from team Takezono and Sakuragi's rival in the first movie during the practice game between Takezono and Shohoku and also studies in the same middle school as Sakuragi along with his gang and Yoko Shimamura which is a 50th girl that Sakuragi ends up getting rejected due to her crush on Oda. Their rivalry can be very intense as seen in the movie where Oda angrily berates Sakuragi for his initial actions as a delinquent, which Sakuragi initially dislikes about basketball or others are mentioning it until he notices Sakuragi's basketball potential when risking his life to save the ball from getting out of bounds several times much to the audience, players and all of Oda's female supporters' surprise despite they make fun of him during the first half of the practice game.
In both Episodes 48 and 49 in the anime series, Sakuragi visits Takezono High along with his gang to visit Oda at night after hiding from his female supporters who are strictly guarding outside the school and notices his right ankle injury after getting slipped from a sweat on the floor during their basketball practice and also became worried to see Yoko upset when Oda secretly does not want to tell them about his ankle injury. Despite their support during their battle against Kainan, Sakuragi angrily scolds Oda for getting too much pride for himself in trying to beat Kainan and forgetting his own dreams with Yoko after he was collapsed from his ankle injury much to the Takezono players including their captain's shock and surprise. After Takezono lost to Kainan, Sakuragi finally ended their rivalry with Oda while telling him that they will settle their battle one day and also tells him to get over his ankle injury before Yoko tells him that she and Oda will give them support in their battle against Kainan much to the latter's disappointment.
Kiyota is another rival to Sakuragi and his troublemaking antics and his personality closely resembles to him in which he calls Sakuragi as the "Red-Haired Monkey" as the latter calls him as the "Wild Monkey". Both characters shared the same jersey #10 but their positions in playing basketball are different. They are trying to make a rival towards Rukawa. However, their antics cause both captains Akagi and Maki by punching them to their heads and they apologized for the embarassment of both of their teams before the start of their basketball match. This also happens after the national eliminations in Kanagawa, where Sakuragi joins up with him and Maki to watch a basketball match between both Meioh and Aiwa in Aichi as both are seen bickering with each other when they met. Later after Meioh wins against Aiwa, he and Sakuragi are booing at Hiroshi Morishige and his teammates for their victory.
Fukuda became Sakuragi's rival when he wanted to challenge him to a basketball match by convincing one of his friends to challenge him but the latter refuses by headbutting them due to his depression after their loss against Kainan. In the match against Ryonan, he and Sakuragi challenged to a loop-sided match resulting in the 1st half where Sakuragi attempts to stop him for an alley-oop but failed as he was knocked off the ground. He tells him that he won and his injured forehead continues to bleed before they take him back on the bench. In the 2nd half, a persistent Sakuragi retaliates and managed to contain him though it was just settled in the practice match between Shohoku and the combined team of Shoyo and Ryonan.
Morishige is the super rookie from Meioh High School and also similar to Sakuragi who is also being fouled out in the game due to his physical immense strength and clumsiness of getting a technical foul when he's hanging on the ring after bumping both Aiwa players with a massive slam dunk. This raises Sakuragi's fighting spirit who wanted to challenge him after watching his match against Aiwa. In his case, he causes him to injure Aiwa's ace, Dai Moroboshi during their match due to his physical immense strength. After the game, Sakuragi intentionally bumps him (to test his physical strength) but ended getting knocked down on the ground, which raised his fighting spirit even more. Because of this, he became one of Sakuragi's goals in the Nationals, though their respective teams never met. However in the manga, both teams finally met in the Nationals.
It has been mentioned in the anime about Hanamichi’s father, whom he calls old man had a heart attack, just as he arrived home. But Hanamichi couldn’t do anything for him because he was stopped by 8 high school students and was forced to fight. This delayed him and was unable to get an ambulance for his father. This flashback was shown after Coach Anzai had his heart attack, reminding Hanamichi of his past. As nothing was mentioned of his father after that, he is presumably dead.
- "I'm tensai Sakuragi Hanamichi."
- To Tatsuhiko Aota : "I'm going to play basketball, because I'm a basketball player."
- "It's not too late to change ourselves and have a meaningful life."
- To Takenori Akagi: "Basics are important. Isn't that right, Gori?"
- To Kicchou Fukuda: "A Genius is 99% of talent, and 1% of effort."
- To Kiminobu Kogure : "Megane-kun, your retirement got extended, thanks to this genius here."
- To Shohoku High : "You guys' common knowldege about basketball, doesn't work against me... Because I'm just an amateur."
- To Haruko Akagi (confessing his love for basketball) : "I love it very much. This time I'm not lying."
- To Anzai: "Hey old man, when were your years of glory... When you won the Nationals? Mine is... Mine is now!"
- To Anzai : "Old man, I was finally able to do what you told me to, I was finally able to change the game, to be decisive, needed."
- To Kaede Rukawa : "The left hand is just for holding the ball."
- "I'll be waiting for the basketball I love so much, it's all because I'm a genius."
- "It’s spring on the outside, but my heart is in the middle of winter."
- He is considered to the main member of troublemakers, along with Rukawa, Miyagi and Mitsui, due to his violent, brute strength in his fighting history.
- He could've broken the High School record in number of rebounds against Tsukubu High School if not called for a charging foul due to his physical contact with Koichirou Rango, which knocked the latter down the floor.
- He has an estimated running vertical leap of 115cm (45.3").
- Sakuragi is based on NBA player Dennis "The Worm" Rodman because of his rebounding and his dyed hair (it was red at one point). They both share the same jersey number. Rodman wore number 10 during his time with the Detroit Pistons and later on, the San Antonio Spurs. Rodman was a fierce defender while Sakuragi is somewhat a weak on-ball defender as he is easily thrown off with a feint. He was better at shooting and jumped higher than Rodman. The rebounding style of Rodman was different from that of Sakuragi’s who rebounded with his jumping ability, whereas Rodman get the rebounds using his physical mass or chipping the ball until he gets it. However, when he was matched up against Masahiro Nobe of Sannoh, he utilized his jumping power combined with chipping the ball and totally outrebounds the latter. The bigmen of Sannoh got a hard time rebounding because of him. Coach Anzai pointed this as his 'true ability'. Sakuragi, however, is a far better rim protector and shot blocker, to the point that he can block dunks and hide behind Takenori Akagi and perform a second-wave block. He also has Michael Jordan's ability to poke jump shots away for blocks and steals. Like Rodman, Sakuragi is a poor free throw shooter, however, Rodman shoots poorly to maintain a high paced match, but can still hit clutch free throws. Sakuragi's free throws were so bad that he had to learn to shoot underhanded like Rick Barry to improve his percentages. Long term, however, his back issues could become similar to Larry Bird due to their hustle play playstyle. As a young player, Larry Bird famously brushed off advice from Artis Gilmore, a Bulls center in the 80's, to take better care of his body.
- While Rodman understood the triangle offense more readily than Jordan, Sakuragi is taught by Akagi about the triangular spots under the basket for rebounds because more shots come off for short rebounds at the time.
- There were many coincidences during Rodman’s career that paralleled Sakuragi’s journey through basketball. The Chicago Bulls were the counterparts of the Shohoku team, a clear reference since the two teams jerseys were completely identical. Rodman did play for the Bulls, but interestingly only began in 1996, which was the year “Slam Dunk” ended in. There was also an incident in the same year where Rodman headbutted referee Ted Bernhardt; a recurring gag throughout the series was Sakuragi’s deadly headbutt, used most often on his own gang or on his enemies whenever he's infuriated. Their personality changes were completely opposite. While Sakuragi has learned to control his temper on basketball as the series progresses, that was not the case for Rodman. Rodman changed completely into a bad boy that often get into on-court fights, always picking up technical fouls and gets ejected. His dyed hair and tattoos shows the complete change in his personality. Rodman's father, a military man, walked out on him early in his life early, which made him very quiet and reserved. His decision to adopt a more falmboyant persona is a way to break his shyness, but it hides his deep-seated adandonment issues because he had drug issues after Chuck Daly (Detroit Pistons Coach) and the Bulls (coached by Phil Jackson) disintegrated in 1999. Also: Rodman was later inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 1, 2011, also on Sakuragi's birthday.
- Before Rodman turned pro, he was actually a decent scorer and a good shooter, Sakuragi is not a shooter. Sakuragi, however has bigger hands and greater grip strength, as proven by Sendoh's hand hurting after their parting handshake.
- Before playing basketball, another interest of Sakuragi besides fighting was Pachinko, a pinball game where you can exchange money for tokens to play on the machine, then use the extra tokens to exchange for a gift, and that gift can be sold elsewhere for money. The indirect exchange of money made Pachinko borderline legal as gambling was illegal in Japan.
- While Michael Jordan had superhuman eyesight (he once read a baseball box score from a 27" TV from 50 feet away), Sakuragi has excellent hearing, albeit very selective.
- Sakuragi's capabilities and drive to win have contradicted the predictions of Coach Taoka of Ryonan and Coach Domoto of Sannoh, which led to their teams' losses. Taoka disregarded him as a threat for he is just a mere beginner in basketball and considers him as a major weakness for Shohoku. Coach Domoto, on the other hand, disregarded him because he was hurting his back and would not be able to do more, which is supposedly a 5 on 4 situation in their favor. It is also because Domoto wanted to prevent Coach Anzai from having a timeout, which a substitution will surely be done.
- Sakuragi became a Jordan Sneakerhead from Chieko of Chieko Sports store. His first pair that he bought for only 30 yen was white Air Jordan VI with red streaks. This was the same pair Michael Jordan wore in 1991 en route to his, and the Bulls' first championship.
- Sakuragi's confession to Haruko during the match against Sannoh, is considered as a double confession. "I love it very much.", which refers to his love for basketball. "This time I'm not lying", in which he indirectly reveals his love for her since the first reason he started playing basketball was his affection for her.
- It is presumed that after the game against Sannoh, Coach Anzai didn't let him play against because of his injury in the back. Because of his absence, Shohoku was easily trashed by Aiwa.
- Former PBA basketball player, Marc Pingris is the Filipino version of Hanamichi Sakuragi when he plays basketball in every PBA seasons and cups as well as his funny antics. In the upcoming 2018 remake version of the anime, he will go on to voice Sakuragi in the ABS-CBN dub.
- Sakuragi is known to never wear socks.
- Sakuragi and his friends' favorite restaurant was Denny's (stylized as Danny's for anti-product-placement measures), a 24/7 diner.