A lot has been written recently about the impact that Jeremy Lin and the Linsanity surrounding his “Linderella” emergence with the New York Knicks has had abroad – not just in Taiwan but in China and the rest of Asia as well. But maybe his greatest influence has been on the Asian American youth in the US.
Asian Americans are hardly well represented in US sports in general. But an Asian American in the NBA? And one who is not abnormally tall (like Yao Ming) but a fairly small for the NBA 6’3”? Who could possibly have imagined that?
That may be the real reason why his now obvious basketball skills and smarts went unnoticed for so long by so many basketball experts – including the Knicks themselves when he worked out for them in 2010 – the fact that no one could imagine that a soft spoken, Harvard educated , deeply religious Asian American with a fondness for Fruit Ninja also really had the kind of basketball smarts that are drawing him comparisons to the legendary Steve Nash (including from Amare Stoudamire, Nash’s long time teammate in Phoenix).
Although he was proven human by Lebron James and Co in Miami, Jeremy Lin is proving he is no flash in the pan and is a source of huge pride and hope to young Asian Americans who are used to be labeled as “geeks” and “dorks” before they ever open their mouths. For all that African American actors have complained about the dearth of great roles for them in Hollywood over the years the Asian Americans who were not named Bruce Lee have been pigeonholed in those kinds of roles for decades. A kind of subtle racism that is really never discussed.
But now in sports and beyond Jeremy is helping to change a few of those perceptions. His story – American child of Taiwanese immigrants who developed a love of basketball with his Dad – is one that many young Asian Americans can relate to. Trying to balance East with West, to please their parents while still fitting in.
So even those who have never watched a basketball game in their lives are tuning in to see Jeremy Lin play or heading to arenas all over the country to watch him play “in person”. Not necessarily because they are basketball fans but because he’s one of their own, he’s doing something groundbreaking and it makes them proud.
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