Drilling Down: Why We Love Jeremy Lin

By now, we've all had a healthy dose of Jeremy Lin coverage. Some of us may have had our fill by now, but admitting thatpublicly would hurt your chances at running for The Presidency in 2028. Enjoy the Jeremy Lin train because it seems like it is just getting started. We've watched the media look at him with a raised eyebrow from his 25-point game against the Nets, to his play-for-play match against John Wall, to his 38-point game against the Lakers, to a teeth-gritting win against the T-Wolves. Now he's sitting at 5-0 while he has been a major contributor in the rotation, and 4-0 as a starter. There are no questions about Amare and Linbeing able to co-exist on the same court, but Melo's return poses the biggest threat to Lin's run. Luckily, Melo will be the whipping boy for the media and the NYK fans if Lin starts to cool off. When was the last time that a superstar would be the castaway for an NBA after-thought? That is something everyone is going to be paying close attention to. Lin has the support of the organization, fans, and team.

We're watching something great here. I think that we can all agree upon that. We've seen Lin execute the pick-and-roll with confidence and precision, drive hard to the basket, make big plays down the stretch, and put to rest the doubts about his shooting. His basketball intelligence and athleticism have been proven on the court. His days in the D-League are long behind him, and he has shown that he can lead one of the NBA's
biggest teams. For purposes of my post here, I'm not going to break that down any further. I'm more interested in the "Why?" aspect of Jeremy Lin. Why has the country taken notice of Lin? It's something that I've taken a lot of time to think about, and something that I feel we're all connected to.

The answer to that question is not as simple as some have made it out to be. The easy answer is one that a sports fan will tell you, "Well, he is an underdog story." To me, the answer is one step further than that. We can all see something in Lin that we see in ourselves. His story was only known to hardcore basketball fans before 2 weeks ago, but his story is well known to us now. Whether it is a long-shot school we applied to, a team we made, a business we started, etc. We've all felt that the world was against us at one point. When we overcome those obstacles, we take pride in our success knowing that something that wasn't supposed to happen to us turned out in our favor. We're watching a portion of our lives through Jeremy Lin.

To date, no one can really explain why a California All-State player in high school was passed up by virtually every major D-1 program in the country or why every NBA team passed up on him
during the draft even though he brought Harvard's team to prominence and broke records left and right. Could it be true? Supposed basketball geniuses, scouts, coaches, and general managers all passed up on Jeremy Lin? All the signs pointed to him being an NBA player, but they seemed to have just been ignored. Mike Breen reported on Friday's game against the Lakers that the Knicks trainers worked Lin out in Rochester, NY and said that he had some of the best agility they had ever seen. Still not good enough to draft him. He torched John Wall at the NBA's Summer League, and that was good enough for him to land a roster spot in Golden State. Problem was, they have quite a bit of depth at the point guard spot in GS, so he didn't have his chance. You know the rest of the story from there, but what went wrong? Why did he get passed up so many times when he clearly had NBA caliber talent? Drafting is an imprecise science as we all know, but Lin's case seems too obvious. We'll all be asking that question, but James Dolan and the rest of the Knicks management can rest easy k
nowing that they made the right gamble. D'Antoni can rest easy knowing that his hail mary decision to put Lin in the game against the Nets may have saved his job.

We respect his perseverance, dedication, and attitude above anything else. Rejection after rejection is tough enough for any person's mentality, but Lin's persistence is a model that we aspire to have. That is why we love this story. That is why we'll all keep rooting for this to continue. That is why people have come out with scores of T-shirts, renditions of "Lin-(insert word)", promotions, posters, trading cards, articles, and TV coverage of Lin. He is living proof of the age-old adage "Hard work pays off".

There is more to this story from a perspective not everyone can relate to, and not everyone wants to talk about. Well, lets just get it out there now. Ready? Ok...lets say it all together, "Jeremy Lin is an Asian-American." This is a perspective that I can obviously
write from a first-hand perspective on, and a major reason why I, along with so many other Asians in the US and around the world, can relate to Lin. The numbers seem to suggest that Asians are an underrepresented group in the NBA. A lot of people have asked me during this historic performance, well, what about Yao Ming? Why wasn't there this same following behind Yao? For me, it isn't even comparable. Yao is the exception. 7 foot 5 inches tall weighing in around 3 bills is not something that the majority of Asians can relate to. Along with that, Yao is a foreigner. Half a world away from the norms, culture, and customs that American-born Asians live with today. Lin, for the most part, is an atypical NBA player in physical stature. He is attainable in that respect.

Jeremy Lin is different than any other player of Asian descent that the league has seen. He is American born. A first generation Asian player that achieved success in the face of near impossible odds. He is from Palo Alto, a place known more for Stanford, Facebook, Apple, Google, and countless other tech companies, not producing NBA talent. He went to Harvard, a place that is known for claiming Presidents, Noble Prize Winners, scholars, and entrepreneurs as alumni, not NBA players. When it comes down to it, Jeremy Lin has broken stereotypes commonly placed on Asians with his background. That is something that we can take pride in regardless of your racial background, sexual orientation, or religious preference. He stands as a symbol of breaking down those racial stereotypes and boundaries. He is proving that he belongs in a place where many thought he didn't belong, and this is something that we've all felt at one point or another in our life.

We must give credit to Lin for handling the scrutiny with grace and humility because he has every right to throw it right back in the faces of everyone who doubted him. We're watching something relatable to all of us. If he falters, the media may come down on him hard because that is what they do, and that is what sells. As true fans of sports, we're a bit more informed than that. Fans know that no matter what happens in his career down the line, we'll remember that he inspired us, motivated us, and taught us through his life story and his play on the court.

Stay tuned. This just might be the start.



Anonymous said...

Good insights...

Loz Intransit said...

I think if you're hinting at any prejudice its of the garden variety type. There aren't too many sensational non-black 1st string Point Guards of recent memory so there hasn't been a history of imagining someone breaking that mould. Steve Nash was drafted 15th, John Stockton 16th.
The only person in recent memory to be trusted so highly has been Ricky Rubio. Kidd.

Before Lin and Rubio, the season's doubt/hype machine was heaped on the Jimmer Train. There is a novelty value which makes for obvious narratives and in Lin's case its a marketing goldmine. The underdog and novelty narratives will be the early story. But just like Obama, Tiger Woods, Yao Ming or any symbol story of this type. Th ultimate value will be settled of the person's performance.

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