Every time I post a comment on an ESPN.com sports article, it is immediately removed and my account gets banned. It gave me great satisfaction to see the recent controversy surrounding racially insensitive remarks made by ESPN commentators about the New York Media’s newest darling Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. One ESPN employee was fired and another suspended after 3 separate “chink” puns were used on ESPN news, radio and even as a headline on ESPN’s mobile site.
Jeremy Lin has attracted quite a bit of press with his feel-good story of perseverance, exploding onto the NBA scene with record-breaking stats after being passed over by countless College and NBA scouts. After leading his high school basketball team to a 32-1 record and a state championship, Lin got no scholarship offers and decided to attend Harvard, which doesn’t offer athletic scholarships and has educated more American Presidents (8) than NBA players (4). After a stellar college career Lin went undrafted in the 2010 NBA draft but was signed by his hometown Golden State Warriors. Despite being a fan favourite in the San Francisco Bay area due to its large Asian population, Lin was sent to the Warriors Development League affiliate.
When the Lockout shortened season began this past December, Lin was waived by Golden State, claimed and waived again 12 days later by the Houston Rockets, before the Knicks claimed him December 27th. Lin warmed the Knicks bench for a few weeks before being assigned to the Knicks D-League affiliate. The Knicks were considering releasing Lin before his contract became guaranteed after February 10th. After an embarrassing Knicks loss to the Boston Celtics on February 3rd, Lin got his chance to play the next night, coming off the bench to score a career high 25 points leading the Knicks to victory.
Lin earned a starting role on the Knicks that night and then scored more points in his first five starts than any player since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. Since Lin’s meteoric rise to fame, much speculation has been made on his ethnicity preventing him from getting a chance to prove his skills. His Asian background may have held him back in the past but now it’s propelling him to international stardom.
Saturday Night Live ran a hilarious skit concerning this double standard, which inspired me to write this post. Jeremy Lin has taken his newfound stardom in stride, quietly going about securing a starting gig in the NBA while downplaying any racial significance to his success and failures.