Apparently, to Melo, Jeremy Lin is not in the fraternity. Or at least, Lin’s place in it is dubious enough that he has not earned the omerta that every other player gets. Anybody wanna try to convince me it has zero to do with Lin being Asian-American? Because, and let’s cut to the quick, Carmelo Anthony never ever would’ve made that remark about a black NBA player’s contract, and I doubt that he ever would’ve said it about a white player’s, either. If Melo thought that Lin was being wildly overpaid but still, fundamentally, belonged in the club, he would’ve kept his mouth shut. He didn’t because he doesn’t.
From the beginning, Melo has always been the Knick most threatened by Linsanity, and the most skeptical about it. There is no question that Lin’s ethnicity is a huge factor in his popularity—a bigger factor, even, than his actual play on the court, as splendid as it has been—but there’s also no question that Lin’s ethnicity is a huge factor in the ongoing suspicion that his marvelous play thus far is a mirage. Now obviously I can’t read Carmelo Anthony’s mind, but it sure seems like he still believes what a lot of people did in those flush first few days of Lin’s meteoric rise: he’t really be this good because he doesn’t look like a guy who’s really this good.
Ball-Lin: Spike Lee rockin the tee with Lin as Mars Blackmon
Spike lees wears mars blackmon shirr lol
Spike Lee’s “Jeremy Lin as Mars Blackmon” tee MUST BE MINE.
This much is clear: We still haven’t figured out how to talk about Asian Americans. The term “model minority” has long since expired, for good reason, but the nerdy kid who, through hard work and natural intelligence, pulls himself into good standing still remains the dominant narrative. For the most part, that’s how Jeremy Lin has been processed. He’s described as humble and smart and a great kid who worked hard to overcome long odds. All these things might be true, but they simply mirror the quiet way in which we succeed in this country. In an earlier column, I said that it has become standard practice among high-achieving Asian Americans to dodge any questions about race. This impulse comes, I believe, out of guilt and a pervasive, irrational fear that if we talk too much about prejudice and act too indignant over insensitive comments, the powers that be will reverse the course of history and send us back to building railroads. As such, if Jeremy Lin simply went about his business, got his stats, and helped his teammates, his accomplishments would be celebrated, but they might not resonate as powerfully with his Asian American fans.
Instead, we have a 23-year-old kid who dunks, keeps the ball for himself in pressure situations, preens, chest bumps, and gets caught up in Kim Kardashian rumors. The public record of Jeremy Lin might show a modest kid who praises Jesus, but that’s not how he conducts himself on the court. I’m not particularly proud of it, but over the past two weeks, I’ve exchanged countless e-mails with my Asian American friends about how the only way the Jeremy Lin story could possibly be better is if he talked like Nas and released a dis track on Tru Warier Records. All of us have shared stories, without a hint of modesty or shame, about getting choked up while watching Knicks games. Lin has reignited the possibility of ChiNkBaLLa88 and the Mental Oriental — a pluralistic, autonomous minority who, without apology, represents a life spent stuck between expectations.
Maybe it’s not fair to Jeremy Lin, and it’s certainly too much to heap onto a young man whose saga through the NBA has just reached its 10th game. But regardless of what the polite rules of our post-racial society might say about conflating athletes into symbols or talking too much about race, Jeremy Lin-as-symbol-for-his-people has already arrived.
7. He has proven, so far, to be able to adjust. The main “criticisms” of Lin’s game — and by “criticisms,” we mean “things that have kept him from keeping a job in the NBA until nine days ago, when he became one of the most famous athletes on Earth” — have been:
1. He can’t shoot.
2. He can’t dribble to his left.
3. You can push him around if need be.
The Lakers game felt like a specific rebuke to all these. Lin drained jump shots early, banged off the bigs late, and even went left a few times. This left him tired and beaten for the Wolves’ game, which is probably why he’s been sleeping for about 36 hours straight. But remember: Lin is only 23 years old. He’s not a finished product. He’s still improving his game. The machine is self-aware.
But what would it mean for Jeremy Lin , and for them, if his star begins to fade? Audrey Kim, a Korean-American who works in New York University’s admissions office, shrugged off the concern.
‘He’s already a success and made so many people proud,’ she said. ‘He’s such an inspiration to young Asian-Americans.’
She thought that he opened up a new field for Asian-Americans, and that Lin’s parents, who supported his basketball dreams, should be models for immigrants raising American children.
There was a pause in the conversation. Daniel Chao spoke up. ‘I mean,’ he said, in a slightly stunned voice, ‘an Asian-American dunked.’