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Linstitutionalized Racism

How Can You Not Love This Guy? I'll Tell You How...

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.

Smush Scola?

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.

Even Lin's Throwing Motion Is Better.

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.

Are We Rooting For The Same Thing?

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”.

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  1. I’m so glad I found your post. It truly is an insightful analysis that puts the media’s coverage of Lin into context. My favorite part is where you spell out how people are not celebrating Lin for the race that he is, but rather for the race that he isn’t. Knick crowds always seem to go crazy for every white player who stumbles onto the court (Gallo isn’t anybody’s savior), so I wasn’t really surprised that Lin would attract some favorable attention. I never imagined that the rest of the world would leap onto this train as well.

    It strikes me as odd that there is so little willingness on the part of sports writers to do any critical thinking with Lin’s rise to success. I think he is a very good player, but more so, I think he came along at just the right time. The lockout created not only bitter feelings among the fans towards the players, it also limited the amount of time players could train and reduced the time they could rest between games. Fans don’t immediately associate someone who looks like Lin with the typical NBA player that they have come to resent, so that’s a plus for him. Lin also wasn’t as worn down by the schedule as were his teammates and opponents. Good timing. I also have some questions about who D’Antoni can coach and who he dismisses, but that’s another matter.

    Again, thanks for the great read. I’ll be back.

  2. I find the Lin story to be very Lintriguing (damn!), it goes to prove that if given a chance, damn near anyone can make it. The only thing I’m not a fan of is the over-analysis from The Worldwide leader. Let ESPN tell it, and you’d think nothing else happened in NBA. Excellent write-up Rod, lookin forward to the others in the future.

  3. Lonzo Harris Jr

    02/24/2012 at 2:48 AM

    Point. Rod.

    Awesome summation.

  4. Steve_Not_Chad

    02/23/2012 at 11:10 AM

    Great article. I am so happy you mention liking Lin because of the underdog aspect of his success (which is why I like him). You also pointed out the unfairness of the media blowing up the Jeremy Lin story because he is Asian and from Harvard. While there are far more success stories in the NBA involving African-American players. However, the thing with that is doing research on multiple athletes, and there rise to success, would bring an end to the media groupthink that we are stuck with these days. I’m mean they(the media) flowed nicely from Tebow to Lin, next stop somebody in the NCAA Tournament, then onto Luck vs.RG3 (which is going to be shameful).

    One last thing, why does calling Luis Scola a “Spaniard” make him sound diabolical?

    You are doing a great job, keep it up.

  5. Excellent write-up, Rod. And thank you for calling us “enthusiastic” and not “thirsty”, seems to be the cool thing to do these days.

    – Classick, Knicks fan.

  6. Hi Rod:

    I agree to an extent that the media is hyping Lin. And that most players in the NBA are American sucess stories. Is the fact the Lin is an Asian American adding fuel to the fire. Definately!!! But if Lin were a black ball player and the circumstances were the same, I beleive there would still be mass hype over him. But it would only be about 60% of what it is now. Blame it on society, but black ball players are assumed to be good to great players. The fact that Lin is Asian makes it more of story, because, historically, they have not been dominant in American sports. I would almost compare Lin to Tiger Woods, when he won the masters and dominated professional golf for the better part of a decade. The fact that Woods is black made him the same type of novelty that Lin is, because golf is a sport that has been predominatley dominated white players. Woods for better or worse became a novelty act. But I garauntee you that the other players on tour love Woods, because he more than doubled their income. Money always talks.

    Having said all of that, I am a brother that is on the Lin bandwagon. The kid is straight ballin. I hope that he keeps playing well, and I hope he continues to have much sucess.

  7. RichJones15

    02/22/2012 at 8:23 AM

    Damn,,,This summarizes my whole thought process…#TBGWT4Life One.

  8. Im the biggest knick fan I know so im all for Lin. Anything beats watching marbury, francis or even tony douglas. One thing u didn’t discuss was how fast media trys to bring you down after placing you on top of world.

  9. YES!!!

  10. Peoples Critic

    02/22/2012 at 1:31 AM

    I couldn’t agree more. Hypocrisy in sports has been going on for years. Social media and 24 sports news has put a big magnifying glass on it. It’s part of this “we want it now” generation. Instead of letting the Lin story develop, they already have cookie cutter story lines to shove down America’s throat before we even learn a thing about Lin.

    Good post! Keep it up

  11. Thanks for this Rod. I’ve been talking about this with friends for days. Since this “magical story” started writers have been taking veiled shots at the established superstars in the league in their efforts to praise Lin. It’s completely unnecessary. Also, I’m a little thrown by people harping on the whole “he slept on his brother’s couch” thing. Has anyone bothered to ask why? Are we now acting like minimum wage in the NBA isn’t enough to pay rent somewhere? I just don’t understand why no one’s asked. Anyway, good stuff. I’ll definitely share this article.

  12. Great article. I enjoyed your take on this whole J-Lin situation. Personally I love it. It seems like a story that is genuine and not contrived (read Tebow). Maybe ESPN et al will bury us in coverage but for now I dig it.

  13. Sotaslim651

    02/22/2012 at 1:00 AM

    Fable attempt rod, you dove in this harder then michal phelps in a bong load…(we haven’t forgotten that ish white people) anyway I dig your take on this lintastic lunacy.

  14. very well written. agree with all points

  15. Well put Rod,I think the media has a way of slanting the narrative to the point where if you aren’t a fan of Lin or Tebow or any other of their “feel good” story of the moment you must be a hater, I find that’s insulting as the stupid ass headlines and comparisons they use to describe this Shit, anyway Great Post Love your work dog Big Fan. Peace……

  16. I agree that the mainstream news media has been really ratchet and racist with their portrayal of Lin. I rarely watch basketball, but even I have seen the news about them using his face near a fortune cookie and saying he is good for the team. SMH. That is just ratched and foul. If we used any other group and put them next to their stereotypical favorite food, all hell would break loose.

    I mean, do these news casters and writers even realize Lin is from the U.S.? All the -ish they want to joke about is really irrelevant, considering homeboy has a degree from Harvard in economics and can run circles around most of us, both on and off the field.

    Keep up the great work Rod and Karen. And keep the sword ratchedness stories coming! 🙂

  17. awesome.

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