Imagine this: there’s a young Harvard graduate, named Jeremy Lin, who’s lighting up the scoreboard after getting an opportunity off the bench, and since you don’t have a strong starting point guard, you might as well give him a chance, right? So you give him a few games to show off his skills, and he’s putting up figures of 25 points and 8 assists per game, not to mention 3-4 rebounds. He’s grabbing a few local headlines, but not much more. The reason? He plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Of course, Jeremy Lin on the Grizzlies is a hypothetical situation, and the first part you don’t have to really imagine; it’s true. Also, the Grizzlies are set at point guard with Mike Conley Jr. However, Jeremy Lin is starring in New York, “The Big Apple”, scripting his story on Broadway’s doorstep.
I know to play the “What If?” game isn’t always worth any time, but I have to ask this: If Jeremy Lin played on a small market team (think Memphis, Milwaukee, etc.), current point guard not withstanding, would he be as popular as he is right now? Would “Linsanity” even exist?
In short, the answer would likely be a “no”. If Jeremy Lin was in Milwaukee, for example, a couple of games would raise a few eyebrows, maybe evoke a smile or two, but then be forgotten about. But when you have that same player in the Big Apple, strutting his stuff while the two best players on his team are out, on a struggling team that really shouldn’t be struggling, you have Linsanity. The internet is ablaze, NBA fans all over the world are going crazy, and Twitter, apparently, was blowing up (not literally, of course) due to the amount of Linsanity tweets.
There are many reasons why Lin has become a big name, known by virtually every NBA fan right now, in a matter of a few weeks. Of course, the first is the way he was playing. As I write this, Linsanity has cooled down considerably, but Jeremy Lin is still in the starting lineup and putting up respectable numbers as the starting point guard for the New York Knicks.
Then there’s always the racial/ethnic theory about why Lin’s so popular, which I wish didn’t play a factor at all. Unfortunately it does, at least a little bit. The fact that Lin is an Asian-American, a Chinese/Taiwanese-American to be specific, opens up a barrier in the NBA that has been locked shut for many years. Sure, Yao Ming was Chinese, but was he a symbol of perseverance and pride in the eyes of American born Asians? Not exactly, because he was a Chinese born player, and therefore wasn’t looked up to as much as guys like Jeremy Lin.
Now I’m not saying Yao Ming didn’t get respect, because he certainly did, and he more than deserved it. I’m just saying that Jeremy Lin has broken a barrier in the NBA, and professional sports, that I don’t think has been broken before. Now I’m not talking about every sport, but now in the NBA we have an American born Asian player who’s excelling, and David Stern is probably psyched right now; If he’s not, he should be.
That’s all for now, as I’m working on a couple of big preview posts for both the upcoming MLS and Formula 1 seasons, and I’ll have them out in a few days time. What do you think about Jeremy Lin?