Saturday, February 11, 2012
A couple of months ago, while I was visiting my sister and her husband in NY, he mentioned that there was an Asian-American player on the NY Knicks roster who had some promise. As someone who doesn't regularly watch non-championship NBA games, I didn't think much of it at the time until I came back from four weeks with my mom's non-cabled, i.e., non-ESPN-enabled, television. The player he had mentioned, Jeremy Lin, has been bringing sexy back to the New York Knicks. He apparently was a 3rd string player finally called to play due to multiple injured players on the team and since then, he has been leading the Knicks in points (and some say rallying the team overall) for 3 winning games straight, after a considerable losing slump. The word "LINsanity" had taken over the city as he has brought excitement, i.e., much-needed winning, back to the Knicks.
I heard a pundit on ESPN warily say that this LINsanity was just hype. He explained that the teams beaten were not exactly top-notch teams (Nets, Jazz, and the Wizards), that it was more of a testament to the sad state of the Knicks. With a game against the well-regarded Lakers, I had to watch the game tonight and see him play myself.
I confess I don't know the game of basketball well at all. I've heard that Lin's position is "point guard" (my initial reaction was, there are positions in basketball?) but I think the point guard is the guy that dribbles the ball back after the other team has scored and figures who on his team gets the ball next. Anyhoo, bottom line, I was LINpressed. He was the top scorer of the game with 38 points and 7 assists (looking at the other scores, I ascertained that this is, indeed, LINpressive). He brought the crowd to their feet at times and he was appreciably humble and supportive of his teammates off the court as well.
Like Dat Nguyen, it's exciting for me to see an Asian-American athlete successfully blowing away stereotypes and perceptions. As one of about four Asian/Asian American kids in my school, I remember racist taunts as a child, but what stayed with me more were the expectations and limits of what a Chinese girl (no, I'm not Chinese but when there are so few Asians, I was generally identified as Chinese) should or could do. Because not only was it from my school-age peers but also a vibe I got from respected adults. The realization there is that as adults, it's really easy to settle into a set way of seeing things, unyielding to other possibilities, not growing. And it can get pessimistic that things won't progress.
So there is something to be said in the broader sense of overlooking talent and strength beyond Lin's example of winning the high school state championship and being named Northern California's Player of the Year for his school's division and not getting any interest from California schools like UCLA or Stanford. The inability to see the potential of Lin's skills at the next level is somewhat analogous to the limitation of the glass ceiling. But there is something to be said about how the naysayers and limitations on initial opportunities did not shake Lin's determination, preparation, and faith in himself when an opportunity did arise. After all, if all the mantras of "there has never been.." were to be believed, there wouldn't be "...a successful Asian-American NBA athlete" like Jeremy Lin. Or "...an African-American President." Or "...a good white rapper." Or "...a female CEO." Sometimes it takes a little determination and patience for both sides to be open to such possibilities too. And when it's accepted, hopefully, race and gender won't matter.
New York is excited about the Knicks again. After a what was heading into a losing season, you think they're on their feet because an Asian American is finally off the bench? Pfft. Bottom line, they're excited that the Knicks are finally winning, no matter who is rallying them back.
In that regard, I hope New York is open to the possibility that this might be a very exciting season for Jeremy Lin and the Knicks. I certainly am.