Mission Lin-possible???

Posted: February 13, 2012 by Kodi in NBA

Jeremy Lin is taking the world by storm and  tearing down stereotypes while he’s at it

The kid has scored more points in his first 4 starts than any player since the merger

Where did this Linsanity start? Who is this kid? and is it possible to have an Asian PG?

It’s official Jeremy Lin has taken over the internet, the NBA and all of professional sports by coming out of the middle of nowhere.  Lin has scored more points than some of the most notable Hall of Famer’s in their first 4 starts while pulling the New York Knicks out of a deep hole and winning 5 straight games. It really is Lin-sanity out there because no one believes that this kid is really doing this on the biggest stage in the largest city in America. Lin literally came from out of the woodwork to play a vital role in the Knickerbockers current winning streak without Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony or Amare Stoudemire. He has been tearing down racial stereotypes with his incredible play but who is this kid?

Jeremy Lin is the first player to ever have suited up for a NBA team who is an American with Chinese or Taiwanese descent (his parents moved here from Taiwan in the 1970’s) and is the first Harvard graduate since 1951. The Knicks selected Harvard Forward Ed Smith 6th overall in the ’51 draft and played just 11 games averaging 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Lin is hoping that he can have a better career than his fellow Harvard Alumni and with his current stretch that is almost already guaranteed. Lin grew up in Palo Alto, California where he led his team to a state title in 2005-06 but received no scholarship offers out of high school.

Lin wouldn’t give up and sent out a highlight video along with resume to every Ivy League school, as well as California, plus his dream schools Stanford and UCLA. He did have several offers from Pac-10 schools to walk on but Harvard and Brown were the only schools to guarantee him a spot on their lineup. The Ivy League does not offer athletic scholarships and ultimately Lin decided to attend Harvard and became a starter in his sophomore year. He averaged 29 minutes, 12.9 points, with a 48 FG% shooting 33.3 3FG%, 73% from the line, 3.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2 steals per game in his 115 game career with the Crimson. He had a career high tying 30 points against the 12th ranked Connecticut Huskies and gained praise from Jim Calhoun who said “he’s got great, great composure on the court. He knows how to play.”

Too bad nobody felt that way in the NBA during the 2010 Draft as Lin went undrafted but did get invited to 8 teams workouts. The Dallas Mavericks were the only team to invite Lin to participate in the Summer League and it led to a deal between Lin and his hometown Golden State Warriors. There were other offers on the table for Lin but he wanted to play in the Oracle Arena where he would have immense support from his hometown fans. It turned out to be a bad decision because he was often placed on the inactive list with little playing time behind Warrior Guards Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. His first career NBA start came in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers and it just happened to be “Asian Heritage Night” for the Warriors.

This has been one of the biggest stories surrounding Lin, his heritage, and I will get to that later but he’s more than that. He is a story about determination, faith, stereotypes and adversity.

Lin had been sent down to the Warriors D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, three times during his first season. Jeremy didn’t know whether he was being demoted because he wasn’t good enough to hack it in the NBA or if it was just a stroke of bad luck, playing behind two stellar guards. Throughout the NBA Lockout Lin thought that he would be playing for the Warriors and finishing his 2nd and final season of his initial contract but that final year had a team option. After the Lockout ended it didn’t take long for Golden State to waive Lin to create some salary cap space, it happened on the very first day. Lin was just beginning a long journey as he was signed by the Houston Rockets in mid-December but two weeks later and a day before the NBA season started he was cut. When he was interviewed about his situation Lin said “that’s what I’m understanding through all this – it’s a business” and understood “it was a calculated business decision they made to benefit the team. I have no hard feelings.”

The New York Knicks claimed Lin off waivers on December 27th after Iman Shumpert went down with an injury. It wasn’t too long before he was sent to the Knicks D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks and 3 days later recorded a triple-double scoring 28 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and dropping 12 assists. A performance like that is going to get anyone back on the roster and Lin was promoted a few days later. Lin, a devout Christian who plans to preach, sees his situation as just another challenge and that “God is teaching me to control what I can control and be thankful for what I have, everything I expected coming into the season has been flipped upside down.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, well actually we could go with the fan favorite Linsanity, or one of the many other nicknames including Lincredible, Tal-Lin-Ted, Linning, Linsane, Linning streak, the Mighty Lin, May the Best Man Lin, Comeback Lin, Linstant Replay, the Yellow Mamba and a variation of Mission Lin-possible. This frenzy began when Jeremy came into a game against the New Jersey Nets and scored 25 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, with 7 assists which were all career highs.

At that moment Lin had been couch surfing between his teammate Landry Fields’ house and sleeping on the pullout couch at his brother’s, a dental student at New york University in Manhattans, house. Lin admitted that he didn’t want to settle into anything too long term before he knew whether or not he would be sticking around. Lin’s contract was picked up for the full year and now the young PG told his fans not to worry because “I’m gonna get my own place soon.”

Lin was just beginning to heat up and Head Coach Mike D’Antoni realized that this is a “once-in-a-lifetime thing” and put him into the starting lineup. Since then he has dropped 109 points in his first 4 career starts, with 33 assists, 1 block, 8 steals and shooting 40-78 from the field. Those 109 points that Lin scored were the most points by any player in their first 4 starts since the ABA/NBA merger beating Allen Iverson (101), Shaquille O’Neal (100) and Michael Jordan (99). He has had no fewer than 20 points and 7 assists in those starts and has propelled the Knicks on a 5 game winning streak (Nets, Jazz, Wizards, Lakers, Timberwolves).

His biggest game came against Los Angeles at home when he outscored Kobe Bryant 38 to 34 and in his postgame interview on the floor of Madison Square Gardens the Knicks fans erupted with a chant of M-V-P and Lin was clearly moved. He gained recognition from some of the toughest fans in all of sports along with one of the greatest NBA players but was also in the center of a controversial tweet.

Kobe Bryant admitted that he knew very little about Jeremy Lin but after Linsanity occurred in front of his eyes the Black Mamba’s perspective had changed. “Players don’t usually come out of nowhere, if you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning but no one ever noticed” Bryant said about the Knicks new PG. “It’s a great story. It’s a testament to perseverance and hard work. I am sure he has put in a great deal of work to always have the belief in himself. Now he has the opportunity to show it.” Bryant added. During the game Twitter had gone ballistic with their support of Lin and well-known sports journalist Jason Whitlock attempted to crack a joke in the heat of the moment tweeting “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.”

The tweet did not go over well and Whitlock was bashed by the Asian American Journalist Association for good reason. Whitlock attempted to backpedal by saying that he has always wanted to be a comedian and that he gave in to his “immature, sophomoric, comedic nature” which has “been with me since birth, a gift from my mother and honed as a child listening to my godmother’s Richard Pryor albums.” Whitlock got caught in the excitement of Linsanity and he knew that his tweet was inappropriate and tried to explain that his tweet could also apply his tweet to “pot-bellied, overweight male sports writers, too” insinuating that Asian’s as well as himself have just a few inches to offer their lady counterpart.

Whitlock’s apology seemed insincere and he was trying to do what all sports writers attempt every night, to get buzz about a popular story and make people read their take on it. I am guilty of it myself and will be the first to admit that at times my humor is eerily similar to Whitlock’s but the sad thing is that these stereotypes are what is holding players like Jeremy Lin back. Sean Gregory discussed Lin’s recruitment out of high school for an article and said that the young man “was scrawny, but don’t doubt that a little racial profiling, intentional or otherwise, contributed to his underrecruitment.”  Lin was interviewed for the piece and told Gregory that “I’m not saying top-5 state automatically gets you offers, but I do think (my race) did affect the way coaches recruited me” continuing “I think if I were a different race, I would’ve been treated differently.”

This is clearly not something that hasn’t come up before with Lin playing a position basketball fans aren’t used to seeing an Asian player play. We have seen big men like Yao Ming (the Great Wall) and Yi Jianlin play under the basket but never have we seen them run the court and implement offense from the PG position. Lin said that the racism started early on the basketball court and it has followed him every step of the way. In college he was regularly taunted with bigoted slurs like Wonton Soup, Sweet and Sour Pork, Go back to China, the Orchestra is on the other side of campus and Lin admitted most of the slite came from fans but he was called a Chink by a fellow player.

The racism didn’t stop there and when the New York Knicks posted to their Facebook page that they had signed Lin the fans kept them coming. “Chinese guys play basketball? Hmmm cool” one fan asked, while another applauded the signing “Good move! We needed someone to calculate their cap space to the penny!” One fan asked if it was Yao Ming’s cousin and another said “he folded my laundry on grant street last semester” while somebody else said “he just delivered me some Chinese last night. Now on the Knicks” and of course the welcoming message of a New Yorker who wrote “Oh herro Jeremy Rin.” There are more but it gets difficult to read, sadly I found myself laughing at some of these bigoted remarks because like I said and many of you who read my articles know at times I push the limits of what is socially acceptable.

Lin however is taking it all in stride and he knows that he is more than just a NBA player and he hopes that “maybe I can help break the stereotype.” “I feel like Asians in general don’t get respect that we may deserve whether it comes to sports, basketball or whatever it might be.” Lin said but notice he didn’t include ping pong, accounting, martial arts or the ability to grow a killer Fu Manchu moustache. Lin seems to have a good head on his shoulder and he relies heavily on his faith in God to get him through the hard times. Hopefully he doesn’t start spouting Jesus talk like Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow but I can say that Tebowmania and Linsanity have been two of the biggest stories in sports. Lin will have a long time to prove that he is worth the hype and I think that the young man with an Economics Degree from Harvard won’t be using his Ivy League education until after a long stint in the NBA.

  1. Eckstra says:

    This is def funny and a quality post! Def breaking down stereotypes.

  2. You think you know says:

    Awesome. Racism sucks.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Beast he’s like a young steve Nash and if u remember steve an amare…….good things are comin for the Knicks….:$:)

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