Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thoughts on Linsanity

    I love me a good underdog story. I mean Since my youth I've rooted for the Cleveland Browns, it doesn't get more underdog than that. With that said, seeing the electric rise of Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has been nothing short of amazing these past 2 weeks. Now I'm definitely not the first person to have some words on this story and I know I wont be the last but I just found this whole thing too intriguing to not say anything. Now if theres a chance you've been living under a rock for the past several days you may have no clue what I'm talking about, so for the courtesy of educating your ignorance, I am sharing the below link to get you caught up.....go ahead watch away....I'll go make a sandwich or something.....

...okay, there you were all on the same page. So lets discuss. Here we have this fantastic story about an undrafted basketball player who struggles getting into the NBA but gets his moment to shine (one of those moments in life where you either step up or regret not having done so for the rest of your life) and he makes every second count so far. Its just joyous to watch and by the mood of fans and the country in general the consensus seems to be that they are enjoying it as well.

...Ohh by the way there is one other thing that you may have casually observed in the nice video above. Have you guessed it yet? Let me help. You see this guy, Jeremy Lin......[whispers] He's Asian (American of Taiwanese descent to be exact)...... Yup, I can here it already. The sirens of the PC police are on their way to my house for daring to publicly notice that someone is of a different race than myself. Its funny how every story I've seen on Lin walks on eggshells when mentioning his race. Now please understand I am as horrified as anyone when people like Floyd Mayweather run their mouths claiming Lin's hype is only due to him being Asian or the geniuses who run the MSG network find it okay to show a graphic of Lin's face coming out of a fortune cookie (my eyes are still rolling especially at that one), but I just think as mature adults we should be able to recognize what Lin is doing on behalf of Asian Americans and appreciate it for the positive thing that is.

   What Lin is doing currently is remarkable regardless of his race. Hes come out of seemingly nowhere to lift a team that has been severely under performing in what most had hoped would be a year of resurgence for the team.Hes inspiring, humble and a marketing dream come true. BUT...... to not say his race has even slightly helped his appeal is ridiculous. Now I know I may have lost some of you with that statement, but please, here me out if you will. Jeremy Lin is doing something groundbreaking and that's a positive thing. Besides all of his on court heroics he is breaking the stereotype for what makes an NBA player. An excerpt from a study published in Slam magazine from 2011 shows the following:

"–In the NBA, 83 percent of the players were people of color, an increase of one percentage point from last year’s totals. This represents the highest percentage of players of color since the Racial and Gender Report Card began reporting the composition of the NBA teams. The percentage of African-American players increased by one percentage point to 78 percent, equaling the highest since 2001-02. The percentage of Asians remained constant at 1 percent. The percentage of Latinos increased by one percentage point to 4 percent.  The percentage of people of color classified as other was slightly under 1 percent. The percentage of international players decreased by one percentage point to 17 percent, the lowest percentage since the 2003-04 season. 
–At 17 percent, this was the lowest percentage of white players since the Racial and Gender Report Card began reporting the composition of the NBA teams."

Those facts alone show that what Lin is currently doing IS unique & theres nothing wrong with recognizing it. I applaud J-Lin (clearly were friends by my casual nickname) and the fact that hes given so many people who don't usually connect to the game of basketball something to cheer for. You cant say the fact that there will be a generation of young Asian American kids who have a new role model to look up to is a bad thing (If there was a large, out of shape Irish-American man with a red beard currently dominating the league, Lord knows I'd be on his bandwagon). Diversity is a beautiful thing and I for one have never subscribed to the "theres only one race, the human race" nonsense. Lets recognize each other's differences, learn from them and be better people for it (yeah even my teeth hurt after typing that one, lol). So calm it down everyone, Jeremy Lin is Asian and he's also awesome. I say hooray for that.

      To end this pile of nonsense I call a blog entry I'll say I look forward to seeing where his career goes from here. I also look forward to seeing how other teams adjust to defend him (New Orleans did enough of it to pull off a win against the Knicks tonight) & just how he'll fare with a healthy Carmelo Anthony back on the floor. All in all its a fun time to be watching the Knicks play ( a statement no one has been able to say for quite some time now) and that's good for any real basketball fan regardless of their ethnicity.

See ya when I see ya folks.....


  1. Victor Cruz came out of nowhere to dominate football, but what really took the appeal to the next level was the fact that he's Puerto Rican in a very non-Puerto Rican sport. The talent is what it is, but the media coverage always reflects the newness of the story. Jeremy Lin is an amazing story, situated in a city that's always looking for where to shine the spotlight next.

  2. In the MLS last year only about 55 of the 90 minutes of play was given to Americans. Based on figures from prior years, other statistics about the number of import/exports of players, and how soccer camps in the us are improving - its believed 3-5 years will have to pass before American players will see more minutes of play.

    So the assumption is Americans are generally horrible at soccer. Put in your example, Asians are generally bad/not present in basketball. There's obviously nothing "wrong" about recognizing statiscal outliers. However, when the general populace connects meaning to those statistics is when racism comes into play. 78% of all NBA players are black, therefore black people play basketball better. So that statement isn't necessarily racist but when someone is watching tv who doesn't identify with being black and subconsciously makes that link - then begins to make other generalizations, and perhaps have some resentment - therein lies the problem.

    I agree - its important for Lin and all of us to recognize his uniqueness in that his race accounts for less than 1% of players. But we can't stop there. It's more important to listen to what we're saying when we begin to say why only a small amount of Asians play in the NBA. But I believe you're right in that now there is cause for a whole generation of kids to culturally identify with Lin - which will spur their interest in the sport viewing/playing and perhaps the next generation or two of NBA will have a different racial/social makeup and this conversation will be moot.