The second time I heard anything about Jeremy Lin I was on FaceBook, and one of my Asian friends asked if any of her non-Asian friends were excited about Jeremy Lin. This question reminded me of the first time I had heard his name – which had been on Sports Center the night before and I paid it little attention. Her status update, however, drew my interest – which led to a Google search, which led to several things that we’ll get into here in a moment. One thing was clear though – people were talking about this guy, and you didn’t want to be the last one to know about it. Like Eddie Murphy’s supposed death, Lin had became the latest “instant coffee” social media creation – which, in a way, sums up much of what I want to cover in this article. Bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this.
Let’s start, though, with the positives. I’m not going to completely rehash this guy’s story. You probably already know it and if you don’t just turn on ESPN. I’m serious – the worldwide leader can’t go two minutes without saying his name.
What’s good about this is that it is an amazing story any which way you slice it. A guy who was literally days from getting cut is suddenly living every kids dream. 7 games, 7 wins, beat the Lakers, out-dueled Kobe, hit a game winner, dished out 13 dimes in 26 minutes, saved his coaches job, became an international sensation, got handpicked by Shaq to play in the “Rising Stars” game at All-Star weekend – all in under a month.
It’s not all that rare though. No, I’ve actually done it too. I’m serious – I’ve come out of complete obscurity to dominate the league. Want to know how? NBA2K. You go in, create yourself, raise all of the ratings to 99, put yourself in the league and then own everyone. I beat Jordan, Magic, Bird – name them I beat them. Heck, anybody can be the man on SEGA.
(Editors Note: Yes, SEGA. Google it, youngin’s)
But Lin is a real life Willie Beamon. He is living “Any Given Sunday” – and I love it. If I didn’t hate everything about New York (and that is my birthright as a Dallas Cowboys fan) then I would find room on the bandwagon and cheer on the Knicks.
But what’s not so good about this? For one, it’s too soon for all of the hype he is receiving. It’s too much of a social media crowning. It’s too much like instant coffee.
The man has seen significant playing time in 7 games. Seven. Siete. Sept. Sieben. Sedam. Three plus three plus one. Any good statistician will tell you that you need a segment of at least 30 to draw significant and valid data. ESPN had a top 10 Jeremy Lin moments on last week when the man had only started 6 games. How are you going to have more moments than games started? A couple of those moments were from college. One was from when he was a Golden State Warrior. Another was from the NBDL. I’m serious. Jeremy Lin getting a top 10 anything after only 6 starts is the equivalent of me buying a LiveStrong bracelet and claiming that I cured cancer.
That said, if you’re going to have 7 of anything, THIS is the 7 that you want. The only other seven I would want would be the 7 that God has in Genesis chapter 1. Lin’s 7 is like “1a” though.
Giving a person too much too soon breeds a lot of negative emotions. People generally hate for three reasons: they want to be you and can’t, they don’t love themselves, they see you as a threat to them. I’ve you dig deep enough you can see all of this in the Lin story.
Floyd Mayweather tweeted one of the most ignorant comments I have ever seen in print regarding the attention Lin is getting. Floyd’s an idiot – but I get where he is coming from. To Floyd’s credit, at least he admits it – because truth be told, we’ve all noticed it. Lin is Asian and in America we don’t generally see this a whole lot. Not in the NBA. And because it’s new (and a few skips from Bristol Connecticut) ESPN is going to run it into the ground. This breed’s envy – those that have low self-esteem are going to want the love Lin never asked for – but is getting in truckloads. This breed’s casual interest – those that wouldn’t normally follow the league are suddenly paying attention – that feeds the envy and that exacerbates the problem I just mentioned.
It’s really no different than when I grew up playing playground basketball in the 80’s and 90’s. Instead of Asian the chic melanin was Caucasian. White kids who could ball were given double takes. Heck – Wesley Snipes and Wood Harrelson made a hit movie about the entire phenomenon with a completely racist and generalizing (and yet spot on) title.
The funny thing about white guys who could ball was that – once you ran against them or with them – you loved them. They were no different than anybody else on the floor. In fact – you were more likely to pick them to be on your squad because they tended to have strong basketball IQ’s. Every white kid I ever ran with could draw up plays, shoot and pass the rock. No white kid I ever played with had a problem sharing the basketball.
I’ll never forget one of the runs I had at University of Maryland. Me and 5 of my boys were playing a 3-on-3 game when suddenly these 4 white guys came walking up. As is customary on playground courts – once you have enough for a full court run – you stop what you’re doing and run a full. We were going to shoot for teams, but the four guys wanted to run together – so my buddies decided to give them me to even things up, LOL.
We annihilated my boys – all of whom were black, by sharing the ball, setting (and calling out) picks and making high percentage shots. I think I had something like 10 dimes in the game and no buckets. I didn’t need to shoot because all of them had ridiculous jumpers. We also had a decent big so we just let him eat.
My point is this – once we ran together the initial novelty of them being white was over. It’s only shocking when you’ve never seen it before. The shock of Jeremy Lin will soon give way to appreciation for the fact that the man can flat out ball.
I felt myself almost getting sucked into hating on Lin because ESPN has drowned us in coverage over the last 12 days. Tebow is somewhere talking about, “How often are they going to make me look at this dude?” I managed to avoid hating because I realized that none of this is Lin’s fault. He’s a likeable guy (at least on camera). His teammates seem to love him and he deflects praise and takes blame. All good qualities that I can stand behind regardless of your color or talent.
This is great for the NBA, but it is even better for us. Anytime someone comes along that challenges that status quo and makes us take a deeper look in the mirror – it’s a great thing. Lin is exposing black social racism during Black History Month. How cool is that? How many times was he overlooked because none of us (here) think Asian dudes can ball? Heck even Jason Whitlock tweeted something about the so-called “small” size of Lin’s manhood that he quickly apologized for.
I have to agree with what my man Tony Ramsey said during last Thursday’s episode of LOS That Radio Show – we need to get over ourselves on this racial foolishness. So what, he’s Asian. Get over it. He can ball out.
At the same time I agree with what my man Marcus Norris said as well – we can’t ignore the obvious. He is Asian, he is balling and we don’t see that – in New York – from relative obscurity – ever. We’re going to react well and we’re going to react poorly. We’ll apology for dumb stuff and move on. Anything that makes you grow is a positive.
It’ great – but it’s still too soon. Let’s let Lin play the season and just enjoy the artistry of his game for what it is. I’m not saying to stop making nicknames or buying jersey’s or tweeting about it him or even covering him to death on ESPN. It’s a great story and we should be excited about it. But we have a tendency in our culture – especially now – to want everything right this minute. Jeremy Lin has a top 10 list on ESPN with 7 significant games played. It’s too soon. Let the man play and enjoy his moment. We can laud him with praise along the way and appreciate all he does as he does it.
I’m rooting hard for the man. I love his game, his humility and his selflessness. I hope he keeps it going, nice and slow brewed. Things that take time to develop and mature are always better than things that come to quickly. Instead of Linstant Coffee, I’ll take a little Linstant Vintage.