I am a Jeremy Lin fan.
I am obnoxiously stubborn about what could’ve been and I cheer for him solely because he’s Asian (and a good guy). I like to say he’s won a championship even though he merely dribbled the ball for a garbage minute. Linsanity was two of the best damn weeks of my life. I followed any team that had him, even when it was the crappy Hornets. I was a Lakers fan for a season. That was the power of Jeremy Lin to me, an Asian-American man.
We don’t have many male Asian-American role models. I have a loving father, plenty of uncles. I know lots of random Asian guys, but none of them try. None of them put an effort into breaking barriers. My race in America has a silly notion on blending in. Pragmatic-ism is our thing. When Asian-American men see no other Asian-American men chasing dreams, we tend to believe that is our lot in American life.
This week, during a motivation speech in Taiwan, Jeremy Lin confessed he is struggling to find an NBA roster spot and that his career has likely ended. “After the season, I had to get ready for this Asia trip and it was the last thing I wanted to do,” Lin said. “Because I knew for six weeks I would have to just put on a smile. I would have to talk about a championship that I don’t feel like I really earned. I would have to talk about a future I don’t know if I want to have. And honestly, it’s just embarrassing.”
The NBA is one of the last bastions left untouched by forced diversity. Asians can’t demand for better Asian representation and that the league should force out good players for inferior Asian ones. It’s not Harvard. So, while I’m not surprised that Jeremy Lin’s career is over, I am disappointed that there aren’t any Asian-Americans pursuing a basketball career to take his place. All across America there are Asian-American guys playing basketball in gyms and backyards, but none of them pursue their passion. Lin didn’t need the NBA; he was an Ivy League graduate, he could’ve been anything and made gobs of money no matter what he did. But, the NBA was the hardest path, a road filled with racial challenges and a heavy load to carry Asian-American representation. That’s something I respect. We have tons of Asian guys making money, but a precious few chasing dreams.
Yeah, I know Lin isn’t the greatest ever. He’s not the Asian Jordan nor even the Asian Lou Williams. I know he sucks at defense. At 6’3″ 200 lbs. he also has a very average NBA body. But his nationality as much as his race is what makes Lin special. I didn’t care about Yao Ming. Yao is Chinese and Chinese men in China are doing well. They don’t have a confidence problem like Asian-American men do. Chinese men have their own country with their own sports, their own tv shows, a commodity of Chinese male role models, women who don’t say “Oh my God, I would never date my own race.”. Their confidence is off the roof. What do Asian-American men have? One magical fourth quarter when Lin torched Kobe Bryant and put us all on top of America, even if it was a brief moment.
Jeremy Lin gave us that.