[Photo by nikk_la]
While “Linsanity” might not rise to the level of an international, “Have you been living under a rock?” story, it does seems as thoughtrecently avoiding some mention of Jeremy Lin has been hard to do. The quick story: Jeremy Lin, from Palo Alto, CA is a basketball player. A little bit of an Asian American icon – inspiring Asian ballers on courts across America – he played at Palo Alto High School, starred at Harvard, was signed and released by both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets and most recently exploded on the courts of the National Basketball Association. In arguably one of the most unexpected ”rise to greatness” stories in sports, after given a chance to start for the NY Knicks Lin has led them to six straight wins. Most breath-taking is that since the ABA/NBA merger in 1976 Jeremy Lin has the highest point total in a player’s first five starts: not Jordan, not Magic, not Shaq, not Kobe, not Dr. J, not Iverson, not Wilt, not . . . yes, Jeremy Lin. Damn.
The Jeremy Lin story has sports, culture and religious pundits salivating because this is not only an “against all odds” story, but much much more. Jeremy Lin is an Asian American in the National Basketball Association playing at a level that few others, Asian American or otherwise have reached before . . . and oh yeah, not many Asian Americans have ever even played in the NBA. He also publicly talks about his faith, so absent of the National FootBall League’s Tim Tebow and Tebomania, his Christian faith is up for conversation. There are always the detractors – as it should be – but for the most part this is pretty exiting for many people.
I have not had the bandwidth to do any deep thinking about his play, his Asian Americanness or his faith, but if you want to know more, here are a few articles/posts on the Asian American issues that might give some insights into the Jeremy Lin. Enjoy!
The Knicks, now with a 10-15 record, have been looking for a point guard all season, trying to pigeonhole various players into the position. Without leading scorers Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks are facing an uphill battle in the games ahead. But if the savvy and scrappy Lin has more games like these, he may turn out to be the Knicks’ savior.
Author and professor, Russell Jeung, gives us two pretty good posts to chew on: Why Asian American Christian Love for Jeremy Lin is well, Idolatrous and Why Asian American Obsession with Jeremy Lin is well, Weak.
from Idolatrous . . . also recall how Paul would rather boast about his weaknesses, not his strengths. We AACs seem to take pride in Jeremy Lin, because he’s famous, athletic and Asian. We’re happy that he’s winning, on highlights, and playing as well as the brothers. Yet I haven’t heard anyone boast about his weaknesses; where’s our biblical values?
from Weak . . . Long oppressed and stereotyped, we EAAMs now can take ethnic pride in Jeremy Lin and say, “At least one of us with a bad haircut can dunk!” He’s our role model, having been overlooked, unrecruited, and undrafted, and now showing them what we can do.
And still, something doesn’t sit right. Why am I infatuated with a guy half my age? Doesn’t our fetish over Jeremy Lin simply prove our emasculation and desperate need for a hero?
In light of recent Asian American race issues in the political arena, Ling Woo Liu, Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, has a great opinion piece on CNN, Why Jeremy Lin’s Race Matters. It’s longer than you may want to read and has those annoying mid-article ads, but it’s really good.
For those who’ve been following the campaign ad controversies as well as the Lew and Chen cases, Lin’s meteoric rise has been a much-needed sign of hope. But the conversations on Facebook, in bars and living rooms are as diverse as the Asian American community itself. Some are pumped up about seeing an Asian face next to Kobe Bryant’s or moved by Lin’s public devotion to Christianity. Others are analyzing Lin’s academic and athletic prowess and thinking about the role model he’ll be for their children.
No matter what our denomination, as Asians we need to look hard at how and why any of us came to be Christian in the first place. We need to integrate Christian religion, if that is our faith of choice, with Asian tradition in a way that does not betray our heritage. We do not and in fact must refuse to carry the White Man’s Burden. We should educate ourselves and our peers on the historical conspiracy between Christianity and Western imperialism. Above all else, we should never let our differences in faith divide us, which is exactly what too many Asian Christians do.
Want more J-Lin? Hyphen magazine, who has followed Lin for years has compiled their list of Jeremy Lin articles, here is another good recap from Jena McGregor and her post on leadership, How Jeremy Lin’s star power could go unnoticed for so long and if you are a Pinterest person, be sure follow DJ Chuang’s, Linsanity Board.
Lastly, my favorite captioned pic so far is this one. I do not know where this one came from, but safe to say that it can be added to the, “We laugh to mask the pain” file.