Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thank You, Jeremy Lin


There are three magazine covers I'll always remember. AI with the blow out and retro sixers jersey on the cover of SLAM (what up @microtony), Obama on the cover of Newsweek December 2006, and Yao on the cover of ESPN in 2000. I still remember the day I got it in the mail... Thoughts rushed through my head. Was ESPN gonna give him props or were they going to reveal he was a genetically engineered government project with fake papers, Pekingese Potstickers, and an affinity for lead based bubble tea?

If it were up to me, Yao would have had neck tattoos, nike boots, and a harem of shawties from 2 Fast 2 Furious throwing lotus leaves on the ground every where he walked. It wasn't meant to be, but Jeff Van Gundy and I couldn't have asked for more. Yao exceeded every one's expectations, not just as a role model for Planet Asia, but as a figure who's integrity transcended values particular to ethnicity. In any language, culture, or creed, Yao Ming was an exceptional human being; we were just lucky to call him ours. Yao was the most influential Asian in America since Bruce Lee who schooled Jabbar, married a White woman, and kicked the shit out of Chuck Norris.



Bruce was the hardest Asian we've seen in America. He was threatening, defiant, and somehow got brothers in Harlem to rock cotton shoes for most of the 70s. I mean, son did so many dips that he literally looked like a flying squirrel with slanted eyes.


If you go to China or ask the Hoyas, they'll tell you, Bruce Lee wasn't something they hadn't seen. There were Kung-Fu masters before, during, and after Bruce's reign, but he benefitted from Hollywood like Jordan capitalized on the cable era. Bruce was an imported archetype that got injected into America's DNA and we loved him for it.

As a kid who spent Middle School downloading .gifs from AOL chat rooms onto 3.5" diskettes and selling them for $5 to kids under the thumb of parent controls, I was more Larry Flynt than Yao Ming. Yao was the anti-Bruce Lee: an obedient, loyal, 7'6" company man in a league grappling with free agency and NBA wives. What's more Asian than that? Yao didn't break a single stereotype, he perpetuated all of them, but surprisingly... I wasn't mad. For the first time in my life, Yao made me proud of the way my parents raised me. I always thought they were archaic, old fashioned, and stubborn, but Yao was a living, breathing, example of the kind of person our parents wanted us to be. And you know what, that mother fucker was ill. If I had half the balls Yao did, I'd be him too but instead, I'm a irreverent, lazy, loud mouthed, chinkstronaut who justifies his existence by sending Judith Lieber bags home to my Mom. Hey, if it was good enough for the gold rush FOBs, it's good enough for me. #GoldenMountain

Yao was the rare individual that still believed in Confucius' China. In China these days, you see the angst, the rebellion, and the Kobe Bryant jerseys. People rep AI, Kobe, and now Starbury. Since Tank Man stood against the country in 1989, few of us could honestly defend China with a straight face. For years, it felt like there was a weekly article attacking Chinese in America, Chinese in Detroit, or Chinese in China. We couldn't just be smart, it had to be the green tea. Every job we took at Ford was a job we stole from Americans. China couldn't industrialize like the West because the West already destroyed the environment and wanted to tell China how to do it this time around. I remember being in class trying to find any semblance of reason in China's Tibet policy, but knowing deep down that there was no way to defend the country. Why was I anyway? My parents were born in Taiwan.

I defended China because no one at the basketball court ever called me "Taiwanese", they called me a "chink". I was Chinese whether I liked it or not. In America, it really doesn't matter if you think you're Taiwanese, Colombian, Peruvian, Dominican, Vietnamese, Korean, or Japanese: we're all chinks and Mexicans to the untrained eye. I had no choice or way to reason because there were no examples outside Bruce, Yao, Long Duck Dong, and William Hung. Chun-Li and Raiden were dope, but they existed only in 64-bit fantasy worlds where we can take down giant Russians like Zangieff with blue fireballs. This is the Chinese American landscape because they are the only archetypes America has seen.


Then this came along: Jeremy mother fuckin' Lin. For 29 years, I've been waiting to see a Chinaman on television that speaks English with some cot damn bass. He's not some uncoordinated, slow footed, giant in the style of Yao, Wang, or Mengke Bateer, who I swear must be Mongolian. Watching him drop 28 and 8, you can't believe it's happening. His teammates are stuck between cheering and laughing. He's not leaping over cars like Blake Griffin or wetting people from the volleyball line like Ray Allen, he's playing under the rim, 18 ft and in, just like every one else at the YMCA. Lin plays like a slower, shorter, Manu Ginobili splitting double-teams like a yard sale flailing arms and legs to get the And-1 calls. He celebrates, he drinks gatorade, and he crashes on his friend, Landry Fields', couch. Shit, he might have even gone to Prom! Jeremy Lin is for all intensive purposes: normal...

It doesn't matter that Lin doesn't have a jumper, loves Jesus, or has that strange country twang to his words. He's just like you, he's a little like me, but most importantly he proves we're not all from another planet without google, facebook, or properly spelled bathroom signage. Some of us were born right fucking here and have nothing to do with things like this:


He may not realize it, but by not claiming "Chineseness" or embracing his rabid Asian fan base, he is doing more for us than anyone at this moment can. Jeremy Lin might be the first normal Asian America has seen and it's fucking great. He's not famous because he ran around with a rice pecker in the Hangover. He's not famous because Ari treats him like a Eunuch. Nor is he famous for singing "She Bangs". He doesn't have to act a fool to get on TV because he balls so hard mother fuckers can't find him. Lin is saving the Knicks with super-human play, but he's dispelling myths about Asian America by being otherwise hyper-normal and I thank him. He doesn't have a duty to embrace Asian America, speak for Asian America, or represent Asian America because right now he IS Asian America. Go to Church, drink that blue shit, but don't you ever, ever, ever, stop being the normal-ass Taiwanese-American you are.

40 comments:

  1. whats so good about yao? dude is overrated as a player. yes he could shoot but to be that tall and can't get rebounds imo is ridiculous. i get he repped china, fine but so did yi jianlian. product of the hype machine and never deserved to be an all star if he didn't get those 1 billion chinese votes. top center? hell no.

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    1. wow... you missed the WHOLE point of this article... or did you even READ it

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    2. go read it again dumbass.

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    3. F*ck you talking about? He averaged 19 and 9 his entire career, and made the All-NBA 2nd and 3rd team a bunch of times. (That ain't fan vote) And he allowed everyone in the NBA to make more money by opening the chinese market.

      Would he have started the all-star games without Chinese votes? No. But you crazy if you think he doesn't make the team.

      You either don't watch basketball, or don't know anything about the sport. If he stayed even remotely healthy, there isn't a center in the game he couldn't score on.

      You definitely missed the point of the article too, but damn...what f*cking sport you watching if you think he can't ball??

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    4. idiot and knows nothing about basketball. Yao is the most prolific true Center of the last 15 years other than Shaq. You have to go all the way back to David Robinson to find another true C averaging pts/boards in the neighborhood.

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    5. Pretty Sure Shaq came after Robinson...

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  2. A-fucking-men. Yao's documentary made me cry. Shit was so good. I can't wait until they make a Jeremy Lin movie.

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  3. That comment about Yao completely missed the point I think/hope Eddie is making, which is about having heroes to relate to in Asian America.

    Yao was Asian as hell, no hyphen, no American; he will never be seen as anything else, not even as a normal basketball player (since he was a huge freak of nature which only intensified the "Otherness" people felt about him). Yes, it's so easy to criticize Yao's career, but in a landscape where heroes that even BARELY remotely resemble you are few and far between, we Asian Americans take what we can get.

    Which is why we are so damn excited about Jeremy Lin. Besides the fact that he went to fucking Harvard and can ball with the NBA's best, HE IS COMPLETELY NORMAL AND IS ACTUALLY BEING TREATED AS SUCH, INSTEAD OF LIKE SOME ALIEN. The True Hoops ESPN blog is already putting out articles purely analyzing his play, which is awesome because the greatest thing for us would be if we stopped racializing everything and came to see Lin not just as an Asian, but for everything else good and normal there is to love about the guy.

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    1. "HE IS COMPLETELY NORMAL AND IS ACTUALLY BEING TREATED AS SUCH, INSTEAD OF LIKE SOME ALIEN"

      Except I hated it when Carmelo bowed and he bowed in return. That sucked.

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    2. Okay, to clear the air, technically, it is not a "Asian" bow which is what is commonly associated with the Japanese. It is actually a Chinese martial arts greeting/sign of respect by bringing together the left hand (palm) and right hand (fist) together with just a nod (or a slight bow for emphasis). Check out any Chinese martial arts movie and you'll get an idea of what they are doing.

      I'm Taiwanese and frankly I think it's awesome.

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  4. this is real shit right here

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  5. awesome post dude! and lin doesn't rock that doofy chinaman haircut

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  6. what a fucking awesome piece of writing. thank you.

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  7. Reppin' the Normal Hard! Go Lin! Great article.

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  8. chea boi...now to say the least lin can ball..but can he do it at a consistant level in the nba...not long b4 coaches realise it and work there defense to shut him down..now you cant shut down a yao he is unstopable..can lin be to???? only time well tell im pullin for him but will he just be another..or will he be something mahgic!

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    1. Yeah, but he ain't the star of the team. Melo and Stat. The Utah game was a rare situation where both were out. You can't send double teams on Lin when those 2 are on the court.

      He's not going to be a star, but he could easily be a Jose Calderon or a little better with the right game plan

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  9. Guy, you've pretty much nailed it on the head. Racial paradigm shifts to come, stay tuned.

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  10. Intents and purposes, NOT 'intensive purposes'

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  11. but we (asians) also rep the dancing, Jabbawockees, Kaba Modern, all those other asian dance crews that kept winning on ABDC. We're filling in the blanks where asians weren't before. i'm glad us asians are getting somewhere nowadays, and not the stereotypical shit we usually get. GO Jeremy! great article BTW!

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  12. 3 comments:
    Lin does NOT speak with a country twang. Jebus, he speaks like a Chinese kid with a West Coast accent. Which is to say, he's just from the Bay Area.

    And to be honest, there's nothing "normal" about a kid who sends in game tapes to Harvard, graduates with an econ degree, and then somehow play in the NBA. It ain't normal for white folks in America, it ain't normal for a C-A. It's just.. awesome.

    3rd: to the commenter above, he totally is sporting a Chinaman cut.

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    1. @sinosoul Jeremy Lin needs the forever popular faux-hawk. then he'll totally look like a "real american" just like you and me.

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    2. or SGV and LA classic asian haircut of spiky short hair with a buzz cut of "1" all around.

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    3. @sinosoul, if you didn't read my blog and comment all the time, i'd make fun of you. lol. i'm guessing your math scores made up for your reading comprehension section. thanks for reading ;)

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  13. great article, the bottom line is if want a shift in the view of stereotype we need more people like jeremy lin who has 3 things: 1. you gotta be fucking good at what your doing. 2. you can't choke when you get the opportunity. 3. own yourself.

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  14. Nice post Eddie. But PLEASE, somebody get Lin a new haircut. A fade, grow it out...something....

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  15. For the record, Yao was a dominant center. Him and Howard should have been battling for a decade, but feet failed him. It's undeniable that he was slow and goofy though. Mad turnovers, always stripped by guards on double team and he wasn't quick enough to beat defenses when they fronted him with long power forwards. But one on one, no one could stop him. That said, this article wasn't about basketball... so anyone talking that is missing the point.

    if you were curious... my favorite players all time

    1) Barkley
    2) Yao
    3) AI
    4) Ewing
    5) Webber
    6) Big Sheed
    7) Artest pre-world peace

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  16. The article has great points, however, I am a bit bothered by your use of derogatory terms that essentially prolong the racism you are aimed at eliminating. J-Lin, you, and myself are not Chinks or Chinamen, we are Chinese-Americans and let's embrace that.

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  17. Doesn't this guy perfectly combine what Asian parents want (Harvard grad with degree in economics) with what Asian kids want (to play in the NBA or otherwise be "regular" Americans)? He's a symbol. Let's hope his streak continues and he doesn't cheat on his wife/crash his car/shoot someone in a night club.

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  18. Thanks for great perspective on Lin.

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  19. It's perfectly normal to recognize that Jeremy (Lin) is "asian". Being Asian doesn't give him any advantage or disadvantage over anyone else in the league. He has obviously worked hard to play at this level. As a long time basketball fan, I am fine with cheering on ANYONE who elevates the game. I reserve my decision about his greatness until he has at least 10hrs of Professional Game Experience. That not withstanding, awesome to watch and I hope he can maintain this level.

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  20. Lin reminds me of Allen iverson. The energy he brings. I loved to watch iverson.

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  21. Taiwan is just a location where you're from..it is not a race or ethnicity..just like Hong Kong. You can't be Taiwanese or Hong Kongnese...we are all Chinese. Just sayin.

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  22. Taiwan is part of China.

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  23. Your article would be more respectable without all the random unnecessary profanities, but your point is spot on.

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  25. Just shut the fuck up people. seriously, jeremy lin is better than yao ming. in any terms.
    so this blog is just a piece of crap yeah.

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  26. I'm a 31 year old housewife who could give a rats ass about sports, but was just looking for a nice juicy keyword to wrap a blog or article 'round. Can I just say that your writing is just so refreshingly stellar, that you actually had me reading like a hungry wolf salivating for just another tender morsel of your writing! Awesome post...great comments!

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  27. ...minus the "intensive purposes" lol

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  28. this is a retardedly good blog post

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