Until the middle of February, when you thought of basketball, you
probably thought players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Now, though, the
first person that comes to mind might just be Jeremy Lin!
Lin was born on August 23, 1988 in Los Angeles, California, to two
Taiwanese immigrants, and he grew up in the city of Palo Alto in the San
Francisco Bay area.
He started his basketball career as a point guard for the Golden State
Warriors. He did not receive much attention or playing time on that team, but
on December 27th, 2011, he became a backup point guard for the New
York Knicks for the minimum salary of $762,195.
Yet it wasn’t until February 4th 2012, when he scored 25 points against the New Jersey Nets that his crazy rise to fame began. And it didn’t stop there! On February 10, when all the other point guards were sidelined, Lin was able to champion his team against the LA Lakers. Lin turned the game around for the Knicks, scoring 38 points, leading the Knicks to a 92-85 win, infuriating Kobe Bryant, making him remark “Who is this guy?”. Shortly after, Lin was appointed starting point guard.
He is the first American born Chinese player.
Still new, Lin has caused a lot of buzz. The Knicks management are now selling Linsanity apparel like hotcakes and Lin’s Facebook fan page gained over 500 000 fans in less than one week!
Brian Cashman, vice president of the New York Yankees brought a touch of Linsanity, when he told a group of young pitchers at the first day of spring training workouts to “Be Like Jeremy.”
Cashman said he invoked Lin’s name at a team meeting, using the 23-year-old
sensation as an example of how quickly an unknown athlete can become a
“We obviously have a lot of players who want to be something,’’ Cashman said.
“I told them everybody writes about the big players, but what about you, Phelps?
What about you, Warren? Why can’t this be you?’’
“He’s just an example of hope for a lot of people,’’ Cashman said of Lin. “So
yeah, I’m caught up in Linsanity like everyone else is.’’
According to one commenter on thestar.com “Society expects the Asian
nerd, quiet and un-athletic, to not succeed in a physical sport like
basketball. What is so fascinating and inspiring about Lin is that he is not
just breaking the mould of typical NBA basketball players, but is
simultaneously conforming to and defying these racial stereotypes. ”
I personally can relate to this comment as well. In grade 8, I was the
only Chinese kid on my school’s basketball team. A lot of kids who didn’t make
the team criticized the coach for choosing me. In their point of view, I had
taken up one of the slots on the roster that they thought belonged to them.
They didn’t think a Chinese kid had the skill to make the basketball team.
In one of many recent news conferences, Lin addressed this serious topic, his
“Obviously, when you look at me, I’m going to have to prove myself more so again and again. I know a lot of people say I’m deceptively athletic and deceptively quick, and
I’m not sure what’s deceptive. Is it the fact I’m Asian American? But I think
that’s fine. It’s something that I embrace. I’m very proud to be Asian
American, and I love it.” he said.
Jeremy Lin is facing a lot of pressure because of his heritage. The NBA is basically saying “You carry the weight of all of China on your shoulders now. Do not play badly or
else you and all of China will be dishonored. Now go and have fun” While I was
joking, this is very true. How many other Chinese stars are there in the NBA?
Zero. It’s just him. Sadly, the rest of the world will tend to judge him a lot
more harshly than the other players.
UPDATE: I wrote this before the New York Knicks suffered a
loss to the Miami Heat. Afterwards, there have been many hateful comments
directed at Lin calling him a “one hit wonder” and a “lucky fluke”. Here are my
Lin played against the best team in the NBA whose offensive and defensive plays are tremendous. People need to give Jeremy Lin a break. He was the only guard getting double teamed all night, all of this on a salary that is the lowest on the team while contributing way more than his team-mates. And what if Jeremy Lin did beat the Miami Heat? What then? Would they say he is better than Lebron and Wade? Nope, they will say “Oh, I need another game to determine if he’s at least an average point guard.” And
then another! And another!
To the people who say he is a one hit wonder because he lost to the Miami Heat, an analogy of a player with a lot of field experience beating a rookie does not show that the rookie is over-hyped. Give him some time and you will see his skills exceed to a mature level. Look at Lebron James, he got shut down many times when he was a rookie. Look at him now; he’s one of the best in the NBA.