James Dolan must have not seen the NBA Summer League a couple years back. A handful of my friends made the trip out to Las Vegas in 2010 to watch the draft picks play, most notably, John Wall. Oh yeah, and some kid from Harvard named Jeremy Lin. Other than those two, my friends didn’t give a shit. As far as other reactions went that summer, a lot of other people had similar thoughts.
If you go back and watch Lin in the Summer League game against John Wall, you can tell that he can ball, but he wasn’t on a Steve Nash-level of play. Hell, he still isn’t now. But everyone(read: Asian) who watched him fell in love with him. Fast-forward to today, and there’s a plethora of articles on why the Knicks made a terrible choice on passing on Lin. Some say that he was the best option, some say that he was a golden opportunity for New York.
“He has potential in the future!”
“He was one of the reasons why the Knicks went to the playoffs!”
I appreciate all these statements, and they’re all justified. It’s so wonderful and cute, how these sports journalists are listing these reasons why Jeremy is a huge commodity, but can we all agree that it’s mainly because he’s Asian-American? It may seem obvious, but people seem to be wary about using it as any factor that it isn’t being mentioned as much, or at all, even.
Personally, Jeremy Lin reminds me of the friends I played basketball with…and the games were actually fair. Not to add more fuel to the flames of this racial fire I call an article, but how many times have you seen an Asian play basketball against Black athletes, and do well? I just saw a Chinese kid, decked out in new Nike gear, with a perfectly-placed headband, play against some Black dudes, and he was physically decked out within 5 minutes. A dude blocked his shot so hard that he fell. Nobody touched him, it was the ferocity of the block that made him collapse. As a fellow Asian-American, I need hope that we can do better than that, on a professional level, because I’m worse at basketball than that Chinese dude. Not all of us are athletically gifted, but for the ones that are, we will root for them until we die. Great Asian athletes come around as often as Haley’s Comet.
You can make the argument that I’m focusing on Lin’s race rather than skill set, but when it was decided that Lin was going to Houston, his Facebook page had these comments, complete with impeccable grammar:
“You sellout chink you should have stuck to the team that made you…”
“Yes all the chinese fans support you cause they have no real interest in basketball but for all the rest of us…”
“Nyc wont miss you only your stupid asian fans who don’t understand loyalty…”(Side note: Really? Japanese people have not one, but two words that describe the act of suicide that involves loyalty. Maybe three. I don’t know, there’s a lot.)
These were the same fans that rooted for Jeremy Lin a few months ago. You can’t turn racism on and off like a switch. So, can we be honest about race? Can people on ESPN be okay to say “Jeremy Lin is valuable because he represents all the Asian-Americans who sorely needed a basketball player to represent them”? I was watching “First Take” on ESPN today, and Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith were arguing whether New York losing Lin was even a big deal. Meanwhile, Michael Kim, the moderator of the debate, was in the center, silently exasperated, as if he wanted to blurt out, “WHY THE FUCK IS THE ASIAN DUDE ON THIS SHOW NOT TALKING ABOUT THIS?” And why isn’t he? Kim looks like he and Lin played Diablo III last night. With matching headsets.
Asians like me, we don’t even care if Lin gets traded to the Charlotte Bobcats, we’re still going to support the hell out of him. The Knicks lost around 70 million dollars within two days on Wall Street due to losing Lin; the team obviously gained that much money in the first place because of the Chinese market. Either non-Asians are scared to keep stating the obvious, or Asians are overly-sensitive about labels. For this one time, though, let’s just be honest about ourselves.