When Linsanity Strikes

"Here, dominating all the sports headlines, is a 6’3” guy who’s living proof that Asians can be ridiculously tall and awesomely athletic." Image by Flickr user nikk_la

Linsanity. All I do is Lin. To Lin-finity and beyond.

Over the last few weeks, New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has taken the NBA by storm. He led the Knicks in a seven-game winning streak and outscored Kobe Bryant in a game on Feb. 10. Unfortunately, the New Orleans Hornets beat the Knicks and ended the streak on Feb. 17, and Lin struggled in a tough game against the Miami Heat on the 23rd, but hey, you Lin some, you lose some.

But seriously, his whirlwind rise to fame is pretty Lin-spirational. (Okay, I’ll stop with the puns now, I promise.) Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Lin was born to Taiwanese immigrant parents. After failing to get recruited for college basketball, he played at Harvard and earned a degree in economics. Before he began playing for the Knicks last year, he played for the Golden State Warriors and didn’t attract much attention.

Now, Lin jerseys are selling like hotcakes. He applied to trademark “Linsanity.” Everyone from President Obama to Sarah Palin is singing his praises.

Oh, and he’s also the first-ever Chinese American NBA baller.

“I understand there are not many Asians in the NBA and there are not many Ivy Leaguers in the NBA,” Lin said after being signed by the Warriors. “Maybe I can help break the stereotype.”

In my opinion, he already is. Here, dominating all the sports headlines, is a 6’3” guy who’s living proof that Asians can be ridiculously tall and awesomely athletic. In the sports world (and especially in basketball), Asian American role models are hard to come by. Zillions of Asian Americans—myself included— are rallying around our Knick in shining armor.

But not everyone has reacted with the same sense of pride and admiration. Lin has said that racial profiling might have had something to do with his lack of college basketball recruitment offers, and that college teammates and competitors regularly threw racist insults at him. (Which include, but are not limited to, “Orchestra is on the other side of campus,” “Open your eyes!” and “Go back to China.”)

These ignorant reactions to his athletic success continue now that he’s in the spotlight. As Asian Americans like Lin continue to make their way into mainstream pop culture, stereotypes and racism are still pretty common. For example, ESPN recently got in trouble for a headline about Lin that read, “Chink in the Armor”. Really now? The New York Post also stirred up controversy with its “Amasian!” headline.

Not surprisingly, some say that the only reason why everyone’s obsessing over Lin is because he’s Asian. Which may or may not be true. In my opinion, he deserves every bit of attention he’s getting for his superhuman ability to score tons and tons of points. Sure, he might be getting a little more attention because of his race, but his massive stardom can help the public see how inaccurate stereotypes are.

And with that said… GO JEREMY!!