I haven't been blogging too much recently but watching Jeremy Lin bouncing from team to team in recent weeks gave me a topic to discuss.
There are probably many young basketball players / athletes / kids out there who look up to the various NBA players and dream they could be out there. However, I would be willing to bet that most of the players young athletes idolize are the stars: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, etc, etc.
There's nothing wrong with idolizing stars but their lifestyle and basketball careers are remarkably different than fringe / borderline NBA players like Jeremy Lin. Stars don't have to worry about where they will play for or if they will make money. Teams will pony up a ton of cash and sign a star at a moment's notice.
What most young athletes don't see is that mid to lower level NBA players have to work really hard and even then there is not a guarantee they will play in the league. It's perfectly fine for young athletes to dream about playing in the NBA but the reality is STAYING in the NBA takes a lot of work for players who are not stars. Plus there is a ton of uncertainty to deal with. But if a young athlete has some ability and the dedication to improve, they might be able to make it.
How does this relate to Jeremy Lin? Well, Jeremy is a player on the fringe at this point of his career. He is now with the Knicks after being cut by the Warriors and the Rockets. He hasn't gotten a ton of opportunity to show what he can do and it remains to be seen what will happen with the Knicks.
No matter what happens to Jeremy in the future, I hope Asian parents will take note of Jeremy's example and not other Asian NBA players like Yao Ming. While there is nothing wrong with Yao as an example, Yao is/was a star much like the Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Jeremy's career path is much more realistic (if not as interesting) path that the MAJORITY of NBA players have to go through.
Unfortunately, Jeremy's current career path may actually cause parents to discourage Asian parents from letting their kids from playing sports. They might say "Look at Jeremy, he's jumping from team to team and doesn't know where he might be a few weeks from now".
All of this is true but nothing in life is ever set in stone. Just having a good education these days is no guarantee that you will get a job. These days, experience and connections matter more than just pure education. The flip side is that Jeremy loves basketball and wants to prove he can play in the NBA. He is more than willing to put the work in.
I'm a believer in pursuing whatever you're passionate about. That's why I support independent Asian-American movies, musicians and artists. They might not be big names but there is stuff I like. I support Jeremy Lin not just because he is Asian but because he is basically a "regular guy" that people can relate to. I hope that Asians (and others) take note of Jeremy's example.