Warning: The following editorial contains as little fact as possible and is full of horrendous “Lin” puns that are in no way meant to be amusing. Also check out the homey Nick Noheart from Filling The Lanes write up on Lin. In great part it inspired this post. Click Here: I Will Not Hate Jeremy Lin.
Part of me thinks this all started the second that Kevin Love’s size 19 shoes landed on that hairy Spaniard’s face. At least if this was a movie narrated by Kevin Spacey that’s where the story would start. Kevin Love had finally earned his rightfully deserved spot as the “white guy” for the NBA. Dirk was fat and out of playing shape to start the 2011 season and currently on a “conditioning break” to get back on the court. And the game winning highlights were rolling in for the T-wolves as Love averaged a double-double while dominating his position. But then “face-gate” hit the media and the tenuous position of official “white guy” of the NBA disappeared faster than you can say “White Chocolate”. And white America was once again pulling a Bruce Banner on the road with a nap sack in search of a cure to their unquenchable silent rage. (Also their loud vocal rage which you can find on every AM sports radio station.)
Enter: Jeremy Lin. Or as many racially provocative media headlines would put it “Enter The Dragon”, “Enter the Wu-Tang” and “Welcome to Shaolin”. The headlines were a bunch of corny puns that seemed to make note of Lin’s Asian appearance while giving his actual basketball prowess secondary coverage. It was a cute distraction in those first few games but my racism radar was slightly bleeping. Did we really need to give an immature sports media / fan-base a NEW racial component to experiment with? It’s been over 100 years and we still haven’t tackled the “black” thing very well.
Then the Knicks kept winning. And Lin was crucial in all of their success. A game winning shot here, a win over LA there and BAM… it’s “Linsanity”. People really lost their minds. You couldn’t put the TV on ESPN for more than 5 minutes without a Jeremy Lin snippet on the screen. He even had his own “Lin” label on the ESPN news scroll at the bottom of my 1080p 52” flat screen. (Balling!) Even then I could feel my “Lintolerance” starting to creep in. Luckily I was able to turn off my TV before I too needed a “Lintervention”. Hadn’t we JUST gone through this with Tebow? Speaking of Tebow...
The Tebow comparisons started. Not by anything that Lin did. No, it was reporters thirsty for a new American obsession that also combined religion, race and winning. Even if Lin was actually not inept at the position he played (ala Tebow) they were determined to make him into a televangelist winning miracle making machine. Unlike Tebow you actually have to ASK Lin about his faith in order to get him to comment on it. Even still this comparison was wedged into every Lin related media. I was becoming “Linconsolable” because I knew what was coming next.
Like clockwork the focus switched to Lin’s personal life and what do you know? He’s the new symbol for why black players are culturally lacking. Not DIRECTLY, “Linstitutionalized” racism is NEVER that direct. It was the dog whistling that only Negroes seem to hear or acknowledge.
- Lin is the cerebral point guard who does it with superior intellect and angles.
- He’s not going to have a “posse” in the Garden when he comes to the game.
- He’s not tatted up, he's not blinging, he speaks so well and he has an education from a prestigious university.
Finally Lin became the latest measuring stick for the media to use against black culture and black players in general. Maybe I was feeling “Linsecure” but when writers were posting on Twitter that it only took them 5 minutes of watching Lin for the first time ever to see that Lin was playing chess to John Wall’s AAU checkers it does seem a bit sensationalistic. Now let's talk about the present state of things.
It’s not just hating black players so much any more. It’s become more “Linsidious” than that. It’s about who and how fans pick and choose to WITHHOLD their love. Instead of giving John Wall a pass for playing on the most disorganized team since “X-men United” they’re chiding him for playing AAU ball. Instead of understanding that a guy like Lebron James still won’t rule out playing in his home state to finish his career because he’s longing for that same universal love that Lin seems to be getting at the moment, they’re telling him to “sit down and shut up.” Jeremy Lin slept on a couch while pursuing his dream of playing in the NBA? That’s a great story. His teammate Baron Davis slept on his grandmother’s floor. Leon Powe slept in a car. Kobe Bryant slept on a couch THIS season because of his “Linfidelity”. (Allegedly)
The point is that the NBA has always been a vehicle for dreams and a way out of poverty for many minority athletes who wear their faith on their sleeves. While attending Harvard might make you and underdog for NBA success it definitely makes you the favorite in LIFE off the court. Lin IS a success story no doubt, but he’s not the first Asian to have success (Yao Ming), he’s not the first guy to get out of poverty via the league (pick a guy), he’s not the first point guard to need a change of team to grab a foothold in the league (Nash) and he's not the first NBA player to believe in Christ (Anyone except the player formerly known as Chris Jackson).
And one last thing before you say, “We’re all just rooting for him because of his race” let me stop you right there. So is “rooting” now defined as racist headlines such as “Chink In The Armor” or “Some lady is going to get a couple inches of pain tonight” after Lin gets a W? Pardon me if I find your sentiments a bit “Linsincere”. I know what genuinely rooting for a player to succeed looks like. It's not racist puns after every big game. I find that there are a lot of people who claim to be supporters of Lin but are actually more enthused about using the next racial pun in an article or on Twitter.
Am I rooting for Lin to fail? Hell no! But I am reminded that love and adoration seems to be reserved for the kind of guys that you’d invite over to your house and have dinner with. For the many of his detractors the worst part is that Lin is a constant reminder that black guys still haven’t been offered that seat of unabashed love at the table yet. I don’t want to dislike Jeremy Lin but I can’t help but feel a twinge of bitterness when I see that many of the people rooting for Lin dislike any player who looks like ME. It is in this way that Lin DOES remind me of Tebow because the hypocrisy of the love-fest he’s benefiting from is partially fueled by race. Not the race that he IS but the race that he ISN’T.
So when you wonder “why” there is a reluctance for some to praise this guy as the savior look no further than that last paragraph. Is it fair to hold this against Lin and his story? No. But unfairness begets unfairness does it not? And I didn’t even go into the backlash people outside of the New York area already have to the forced nature of NYC-centric sports coverage. Is Lin an American success story? He sure is but so is EVERYONE in he NBA. Lin was an American success story the second he got into Harvard. Leon Powe wasn’t a success story until the second he cashed his first NBA check. I root for a myriad of paths to get to the league but why does it seem like Lin is getting a pat on the back for doing it the "right" way?
This isn't an article ripping enthusiastic Knicks fans, this isn't a diss to those who genuinely root for the underdog, this is my feeble attempt to explain why some are leery of the hype surrounding Lin. As far as the hatred of Lin, that will come in many forms. You’ll see bloggers analyzing him shot by shot waiting for him to miss, you’ll see black people reluctant jump on the bandwagon beside the same people who think all other NBA players look like “thugs” and there will probably be some people who dislike NYC in general on the hate bandwagon. I won’t be one of the haters but it doesn't mean that I'm blind to the motivations of the parties involved.
Then again… maybe I’m just being “Linsitive”.