NBA NY Knicks Star (or ‘sudden star’) Jeremy Lin has become the focus of attention since he exploded into the pop culture scene helping to propel the Knicks to exciting wins over traditional rivals like the LA Lakers, and new ones like the Toronto Raptors. In fact, it was against the Raptors last night that Lin continued an excellence of play that has caused him to go from bench-warmer, someone the Lakers Kobe Bryant didn’t know about, to star, and someone who’s play Kobe admired.
But the fact is Jeremy Lin is the first American of Chinese or of Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. The first. That means there are many of Asian decent who are going to pay attention to him because he’s, well, Asian. It means that, for a time, he’s going to get more media coverage because he’s not just the “first Asian,” but now the first Asian to play so well, he’s a star. (And don’t forget that when Lin was with the Golden State Warriors, he, well, sucked.)
Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.
A number of people and organizations have jumped all over Floyd “Money” Maywhether, and in part because they disagree with him, in other part because they’re intellectually dishonest, and in a third part because for media companies, weighing in on the issue is, well, money. Check out these Twitter tweets as a sample, and from people who would never say what they tweeted to Floyd’s face:
Alex Robertson @alextrobertson
@FloydMayweather save that Al Sharpton bullshit from someone who cares. No one gives a shit about the social commentary of felons. #thatsyou
@FloydMayweather always knew u were a clown but now I know you are also racist and ignorant.
@FloydMayweather it’s cause black players are born with the talent to play basketball Asians are born to invent plus they all get praised
If if it’ not that, then it’s media outlets like CBS News Online bringing up Floyd’s Twitter tweet in the context of other statement’s he’s made, which really have nothing to do with the Lin issue, other than the words came from Floyd and deal with race.
Here’s the hard truth: Floyd is correct.
America’s rooting for Jeremy Lin in the same way that America rooted for Larry Bird, but this time it’s something no one’s ever seen before: an Asian guy playing well at a game that American society stupidly reserves for black men. Moreover, that basketball, excuse me, the NBA, has evolved in this way says as much about our racial (and racist) history, as it does the excitement over Lin’s performance.
Now, today, there’s a whole new generation, including this blogger, who roots for Lin in the NBA because he’s Asian and is playing well. I’m rooting for Lin in the same way I rooted for Yao Ming to do well. These events send a message that’s quintessentially American: that it doesn’t matter what you look like, you too can excel at, in this case, professional basketball.
What bothers me is the number of people who want to run away from the fact that others (and including themselves) root for Lin or voted for Barack Obama because both actions represent votes for the continued diversification of America. That’s really what it’s all about – or should be.
I think if someone talked to Floyd Mayweather about what he said, er Twitter-tweeted, and in the context that I’m presenting, he too would agree. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating diversity, and everything wrong with lying about doing so.