Race and Jeremy Lin: A Compilation of the Best Articles This Month

There are a lot of Jeremy Lin articles out there. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. I was going to write about how we’ve followed his game from the Harvard v Santa Clara U match up with his parents all wearing We Believe shirts sitting in front row and the whole arena (which seats 2 people) chanting “Over-rated” to the time we saw his first play in a Warriors uniform (2 steals!). But instead, I decided to take all the articles I found the most relevant and interesting and wrap them up Christmas Eve-style for your viewing pleasure. I especially liked the ones sent to me by my friends who do not follow sports. So a few of these go deep into racial theory, which is still very new to me. So read these, and skip all the superfluousness ones about “Chink in the Armor” and enjoy. And if you need a quick primer to the Jeremy Lin Show (or basketball in general), check out this Linfographic and I promise you that will be the one and only Lin Pun I use:

Linfographic: Jeremy Lin’s journey, illustrated

Linsanity: There Goes the Neighborhood by Rembert Browne of Grantland

Asian Men Can Jump by Gish Jen of The New York Times

Will Lin-sanity tame Tiger Moms? by Jeff Yang of The New York Daily News

‘We Don’t Have Anything to Call Our Own Yet’: Jeremy Lin and Narratives of Achievement Among People of Color by Ryan Davis, Negro Sunshine (People of Color Organize)

Why Jeremy Lin Matters: Asian Male Image in the Media by Ky Phong Paul Tran of New America Media

But easily my favorite is the SNL opening last week that pointed out the double standard that the media has enjoyed when it comes to being political correct for African American athletes while totally disregarding Asian American ones. GO SNL: Saturday Night Live.

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The Yao Show

China Cult of Celebrity

Great Wall of China, Air China, Red Dragon, or some other cliched nickname...

Yao Ming, please. You’re killing me. First, you don’t pull a Kobe and stick to your guns to get “drafted” by a team that has a nice large population of Asian-Americans (I’m looking at you Clippers, Lakers, Knicks, Nets, and my beloved, yet lowly, Golden State Warriors). So you end up in Houston. A city with a significant Asian-American population, but not known as a Metropolitan city with a eclectic and worldly mix of Asian-Americans, unless you count the 3 different types of Vietnamese dialects that live there. If you played at Staples weekly, or MSG or the Brooklyn Arena, or even my Oracle Arena, then you’d sell out every game and build an even greater fan base throughout the world. Instead, you play for the largest city in Texas, which is like saying you’re the inmate with the prettiest eyes at Folsom State Prison. But the worst part of it all? When you DO visit the other cities, basketball plays second fiddle to the greatest show on earth: THE VISITING 7’5″ GIANT CHINESE BASKETBALL PLAYER, yao ming.

World's Tallest Man - Bao Xishun - 7'-7"

Not Yao Ming

You’ve become a spectacle. A traveling freak show. Sure, there are true fans of China Basketball that show up with Yao jersies. But when the Rockets come into town, you can be damn sure the home team sells tickets based on the fact that you’re different than the rest of the players:

  • Orlando Magic: “East meets East” night (Eastern player playing against an Eastern Conference team) where they served sushi (What?!), egg rolls and lo mein.
  • Golden State Warriors: Karate exhibition by mostly Non-Asians.
  • Chicago Bulls lion dancing during halftime.

When I was at a Warriors/Rockets game last year, I had to put up with a halftime show that had ALL the following:  lion dances, a karate competition, Chinese acrobats and a Chinese woman throwing bowls from her foot up to her head while on a unicycle. Pretty soon, all the NBA stadiums will run out of ideas and they’ll resort to math competitions and spelling bees during halftime?!
You know what this is like? It’s like selling fried plaintains and having a raggaeton-themed half time show when Puerto Rican national, Carlos Arroyo of the Orlando Magic comes to town or doing a Samba-themed halftime show with capoeira performances when Brazilian Leandro Barbosa of the Suns comes over.

I’m not really sure what you do for a halftime instead (maybe a half court shot competition for a trip to Shanghai?) but if you want Asian-Americans to come watch local games against the Rockets, getting some Asian kids to juggle and karate chop isn’t the answer, I could stay home and see that in the mirror.