Friday, February 24, 2012

Good Learning Lesson For Jeremy Lin

By now, everyone knows that the Miami Heat beat the New York Knicks 102-88 tonight.  Jeremy Lin was harassed the whole night and played his worst game since became a starter two weeks ago.

As I write this though, I am not particularly disappointed or upset by this performance.  Like many fans, I have been glad that Jeremy Lin has shown Asian-Americans can compete at the NBA level.  It would have been good to do well against a championship contender such as the Heat.

However, I think this bodes well for Jeremy Lin's future.  As it's well documented, he was a small guy entering high school and grew to 6'3".  I'm pretty sure it took a little while for Jeremy to adjust to this.  At Harvard, he didn't start until his sophomore year and he didn't really break out until his junior year.

Jeremy Lin has shown that he is able to adjust and adapt his game over time.  Tonight will be a blip and he will be much better off the next time the Heat and Knicks meet.   Not many players (even highly drafted ones) can simply get on the court and do well.  Jeremy Lin has done pretty good over two weeks.

After playing in the rookie-sophomore game tomorrow, Jeremy Lin will get a break from playing and prepare for the second half of the season.  He'll have a chance to practice with his teammates, work on improving his game and be ready to help the Knicks for their playoff run.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Asian-Americans Love Jeremy Lin because........

Asian Americans are loving Jeremy Lin / Linsanity as evidenced by the tweets, Facebook posts, blogs and memorabilia being purchased at huge rates.

While the major media outlets are taking the angle that Asians love Jeremy Lin because he is breaking stereotypes (true), there is another angle that hasn't been covered as much.   Asian-Americans also LOVE basketball just as much as other people.  In fact, China and the Philippines love basketball just as much as any other country so there are probably more Asian basketball fans than any other ethnicity around the world.  Having Jeremy Lin be Asian and playing basketball is a dream come true for many Asian-Americans.

Focusing on Asian-Americans though, the love of basketball is evidenced by the various leagues, tournaments and Asian-American teams that exist up and down throughout California (and also in some other states).

Up in Northern California, there are at least a dozen organizations that host upwards of 8 to 12 youth basketball teams for boys and girls from 2nd to 12th grade.  These organizations host a tournament circuit year round that sometime include teams from Southern California.  The Southern California teams also do the same thing.

For adults, there are various leagues that have been around for years and years.  The longest standing leagues is the Nisei Athletic Union (NAU) that originated back in 1931.  Originally catering to Japanese-Americans, the league is now open to both Chinese and Japanese Americans.  Another long standing league in the Chinese Christian Union (CCU) Summer Basketball League.   The CCU Summer League has been around since the 60's or 70's and had it's start in Chinatown.  The league featured primarily Chinatown churches but began to expand in the 1990's.  This past summer, the league had over 70 teams from churches around SF and the Peninsula.  These are the long standing examples but other leagues such as the Dream League (SF Bay Area - 10 years) and others give Asian-Americans opportunities to play in a competitive basketball environment.

Beyond leagues, there are various tournaments catering to Asian-Americans.  Rather than playing a 2 to 3 month "season", organizers host weekend tournaments in various locations around California and other cities.   WHile most of the SF Bay Area / Northern California tournaments usually feature local teams, there are some tournaments involving teams from other states.

Two of the longer standing tournaments are the Las Vegas Invitational which is primarily a Chinese/Japanese tournament which features some 15 divisions of 6 to 8 teams each.  Most of the teams are California based though some of state teams join the fun every now and then.

One large tournament (32nd year in 2012) that is organized in the East Coast is the North American Chinese Invitational Basketball tournament.   Held every Memorial Day Weekend, the tournament shifts locations every year.  In 2012, the tournament will be held in Canada.  The most interesting aspect of the tournament?  It features teams from all over North America, Canada and even from China.  The majority of the teams for this tournament come from the East Coast (Boston, New York, Philly) and Canada but West Coast teams (LA, SF, Arizona) have also made treks to compete in the tournament.

The point in all of this history is that Asian-Americans not only like Jeremy Lin but they like basketball.  Yes, there will be the bandwagon fans who only follow basketball because of Jeremy Lin.  But there are also basketball fans who liked basketball before Jeremy Lin and will continue to like it after the Jeremy Lin noise has died down.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Racial Awareness Thanks to Jeremy Lin

At the moment, there is a quite a bit of discussion of ESPN's decision to use the headline "Chink In The Armor" on their website.  The headline was describing the New York Knicks loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night and likely a reference to a big weakness in Jeremy Lin's basketball game:  Turnovers.

However, the term "Chink" has some negative connotations in the Chinese American community and that caused a minor uproar.  ESPN removed the headline and apologized for it today.

Personally, as a Chinese-American, I don't think the headline "Chink In The Armor" was meant to be offensive.  The headline (or phrase) is generally used to indicate weakness.  However, it just so happened to be describing Jeremy Lin and so I see why people would be offended.

Regardless of what you think of the ESPN uproar, I think that Jeremy Lin's sudden rise has sudden given Americans (and the entire world) to an inside look of what Asian-Americans have to deal with.  There have been quite a few national newspapers which have discussed this.

While Asian-Americans are a large part of the American culture and society,  many non-Asian Americans do not know the history of Asian-Americans and the stereotyping and racism that was faced by Asian-Americans over the years.

From the Chinese Exclusion Act to the Japanese Interment Camps to Vincent Chin, there is a history of Americans viewing Asian-Americans as foreigners or a threat to their society.  Yet, when racial politics are discussed in America, it is usually a Black or White affair.  Asians (and even Latinos) are not part of the discussion.

Jeremy Lin is bringing an awareness of the Asian-American community that should benefit everyone in the future.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Jeremy Lin means to Asian-Americans

As a long time Jeremy Lin fan since his senior year (2006) in high school, I am extremely happy that the outbreak of "Linsanity".  Even though I thought he could be a "decent" player in the NBA, I never thought he would do as well as he has.  Jeremy's break out has also galvanized the Asian-American community and I would like to talk about some of the reasons why.


Even though Bruce Lee has been dead since 1973, he is still one of the mostly widely recognized Asian-American celebrities in the world.  No Asian-American (or even Asian born) celebrity (actor / athlete) has completed filled Bruce Lee's shoes.  Well known Asian-American actors such as John Cho and Daniel Dae Kim currently have good followings but don't have Lee's star power.  Asian-born actors such as Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat and Jet Li also have their own following but their Asian life experiences don't resonate with the Asian-American population in the States.

The last Asian celebrity that rivaled Bruce Lee was Yao Ming.  The 7'6" giant was born in China but spoke solid English and showed a different side of Chinese cultural.  Despite Yao's ability to shift between the Chinese and American lifestyles, he was still an Asian born athlete who's life experience didn't reflect what Asian-Americans go through.

Enter Jeremy Lin.  The Palo Alto raised kid had to fight through many years of coaches and teams not recognizing his talent and ability.  He had to fight through racial taunts and stereotypes of what Asian-Americans males should be.  Lin is not as angry outwardly as Lee was, but you can see the fire in his eyes when things go well.

Jeremy Lin is not quite on the level of Bruce Lee just yet.  However, the impact in the past couple of weeks is similar and this impact could GROW as the months and years go by.


When the Golden State Warriors signed Jeremy Lin, it was thought to be a marketing ploy to cater to the large Asian-American population in the Bay Area.  When he didn't do well (and eventually got cut by the Warriors and the Rockets this year), the assertions seemed to be correct.

It is now Week 2 of "Linsanity" and we've got people from all walks of life following and supporting Jeremy Lin.  Is it NOT JUST an Asian-American fan base.  It includes Blacks, Whites, Latinos, other professional athletes and even some actors / actresses.

Jeremy Lin's rising star should be a sign to the American business and entertainment worlds that Americans will support of other ethnicities besides White / Caucasian.   In the music industry, it was only recently that an Asian-American group, Far East Movement broke through with their #1 Billboard  hit "Like A G6".  However, while their other songs received some attention, none have duplicated their success.  Prior to the Far East Movement, there have not been many mainstream Asian-American musicians.  There are a lot of underground singers and groups but not many are known to the general American public.

In the movie and TV industry, there are quite a few well known actors including the aforementioned Daniel Dae Kim and John Cho.  While Cho has had some lead roles with Harold and Kumar, none of the movies were huge multi-million dollar hits.  Kim and other American born actors have solid roles but are still not considered as the main lead actors.

However, Jeremy Lin's sudden emergence and the fan response shows the world that people will support anyone IF they have the talent.  I believe that Jeremy Lin's sudden rise to fame will open the eyes of other industries to consider looking at people's talent beyond the color of their skin.  It may take some time but Asian-American lead actors and mainstream musicians should eventually appear and became as normal as an Asian-American NBA player.


I've blogged about this before.  Jeremy Lin was a good student in high school and college.  Now he's playing in the NBA.  In many ways, he is living many Asian-American male's dreams. There are certain parents who rather their kids focus on their studies instead of sports.  I am the believer that both things can co-exist.  Now I have an example I can point to in Jeremy Lin.  If I ever have kids, I can say "if Jeremy Lin can do it, so can you".

There's probably more things I can write about, but I'll leave it for now.  Enjoy the Linsanity.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Jeremy Lin: WOW!

As I have blogged about Jeremy Lin before, it should come as no surprise that I am a fan of his career.  I remember reading about him during his high school days, followed him throughout his college career and was thrilled when the hometown Golden State Warriors signed him to a contract.   Alas, Jeremy's NBA career hadn't taken off as anyone expected and many people wondered if he would ever get a chance to show his skills. 

However, even the most die-hard of Jeremy Lin fans would have never expected Jeremy Lin to do what he did in the last two games.  He led his team to victories over the Nets and the Jazz.  He had career highs in points in both games (25 / 28), assists (7 / 8) and minutes (36 / 45).  

I don't think it's completely sunken in for Jeremy Lin OR his fans.  I think most of us fans would have been happy if he played 15 to 20 minutes and became a consistent bench player.  Instead, in two games, he has been the star, outshining his more heralded teammates. 

However, if you look at Jeremy's career in high school, college and even D-League, Jeremy has always been a leader of men (or teams).  In many ways, we shouldn't be surprised at what he did the last two nights.  He has done it before after all.