The Greater Significance of Jeremy Lin
I typically try to avoid posting the same articles on Bleacher Report and on ChiCitySports, especially if it has no direct correlation to the Bulls, but this seems timely with the Jeremy Lin explosion around the NBA. You can read the original article on Bleacher Report HERE.
For the past four games, New York Knicks starting point guard Jeremy Lin has averaged 28.5 points per game on 57.5% field goal shooting, 8.0 assists per game and 1.8 steals per game. To top things off, the Knicks have won four straight with Lin playing big minutes.
While on the surface, it may seem that the big story is the rise of a new player in a new market, it actually goes much deeper than that.
Whether we like to address it or not, stereotypes are a big part of sports. Think of the stigma of being a black quarterback in the NFL. Think of Kobe’s surprise at black guys throwing the white Josh McRoberts alley-oops. Think of the lack of black hockey players in the NHL.
One of the most prevalent stereotypes is that Asians cannot play American sports outside of baseball.The two major Asian players to play in the NBA over the last few seasons have been Dallas Mavericks forward Yi Jianlian and Houston Rockets behemoth Yao Ming. Yao and Yi are both upwards of seven feet in height. At that height, you can at least a look at the NBA no matter what your skill level is.
What is really impressive is doing what Jeremy Lin has done, and making it into the NBA as a guard. Lin is not particularly impressive physically compared to other players in the NBA, and a guard has to be much more skilled than a big man to play in the NBA. And I realize that this is biased coming from an Asian-American, but Asian-Americans have to work twice as hard to prove ourselves physically before we are accepted.
Do you want proof of this? Lin sent a high school highlight tape of himself to all of the Ivy League schools, UCLA, Stanford, and Cal. He was not offered a scholarship at any of the schools and was only offered a walk-on role at Brown and Harvard since they do not award athletic scholarships. So Jeremy Lin, a future NBA starter, paid his way through college at one of the most expensive schools in the country in order to get a chance to play Division I basketball. Ridiculous.
With the rise of Lin has come the backing of the Asian-American community. I am based in Dallas, Texas, and have seen Asian-Americans going out of their way to support him. An acquaintance of mine, a die-hard Dallas Mavericks fan, has effectively turned his Facebook and Twitter into Jeremy Lin highlight galleries. The rise of Dirk in the past few games has been ignored in favor of the rise of Lin. On my end, I personally am a Chicago Bulls fan. Dating back to the 1990s, Bulls fans and Knicks fans just flat out don’t like each other. However I can’t help but root for him.
Also with the rise of Lin has come the push of the Asian-American basketball fan. This fan has been emerging for the last decade, but the emergence of Lin has finally publicized a vital part of the NBA fan-base. As well, there has been a big push in the last few days of casual Asian-American basketball fans. To give an example, Jeremy Lin is one of the key phrases that Facebook has identified as a phrase that many of my friends are using. When I viewed the profiles who had posted about Lin, it was split among die-hard basketball fans, and individuals who I never would have imagined ever knowing about sports. The effect of Lin on the Asian-American population is undeniable.
Who knows if Jeremy Lin will be able to keep up his ridiculous play for the rest of the season, or even the rest of his career. However either way, the popularization of the game among Asian-Americans and the perception of the Asian-American athlete has been forever changed.