Monday, July 16, 2012

The Jeremy Lin Story Belongs in NY


My boy Uncle Jesse said it best, "Only the Knicks can have a day like this -- J Kidd drives into a telephone pole and we lose Lin, some KNix shit." True story, J... and it's sad. For 2 months, I went to basketball courts and people expected Asian mufuckers to ball hard. I remember playing ball at Masaryk the day after the Lakers game and every time I did anything resembling a positive play, people shouted JLin. 


In 30 years of playing hoops, the two months of Linsanity provided the most gratifying basketball moments I've ever had. As stupid as it sounds, there was a different feeling walking on courts and we had fun with it. We saw ABCs flying Taiwanese flags at MSG, American Airlines Center, and the Staples Center among others. Even if we still sucked, we belonged. Asians arrived in the American Basketball Lexicon.


I would never in my life discount the effect of Yao Ming. He's the god, but if Yao exported the NBA globally, Lin penetrated it domestically. He looked like us, talked like us, and had a xanga like us. I could've sat next to this fool in Chinese School, piano concerts, and Kumon Class. My boy Maxwell gave me the SAME EXACT BLACK APPLE JACKET he has on in this video and then I sang the same song as Landry at Karaoke Boho the next night. The kid was spotted at Avenue carrying around one Bud Light all night like he was my brother, Evan! Only an Asian American is capable of getting fucked up, turning red, and being satiated by one bud light for a 3 to 5 hour period. This was the beauty of JLin7, he was real!


He confirmed stereotypes, he broke stereotypes, but we didn't care either way because he wasn't manufactured or forced on us. He just happened and we could tell from jump he was one of us. There was no foreshadowing, there was not a perceived need, but I don't think any of us can imagine Asian America or basketball without him. As much as I wish he had less to say about Jesus and more to say about race, I thank him eternally. My personal agenda and allegiances aren't his nor should they be and that's a tough pill to swallow. 


This is bigger than basketball. Yao was going to redefine the NBA on a global level whether or not he played for Houston, but there was something special about Jeremy in NY. The Simpons are from Springfield, the Transformers are from Cybertron, and Jeremy Lin is a Knick for life. He is the quintessential NY immigrant story. Kicked around, down and out, but these days he could stunt like Killa Cam "drinkin' sake on a suzuki... in Osaka Bay". Hollywood made movies like Rookie of the Year, Eddie, Little Giants, Unnecessary Roughness, and the Sandlot, but for once, here it was in front of us: Jeremy Fucking Lin every other night live in the Garden. You can't write a better script than an Asian person starring in an arena with the acronym for Mono Sodium Glutemate; and no matter what a stripper tells me, it's not supposed to end in Houston. 


This story belongs in New York! I mean really, is there no sanity in this world? I don't blame the Knicks for Jeremy signing a poison pill contract, but I don't blame Jeremy entirely either. I'm just surprised neither party gave themselves an out to fix this shit before it's gotten where it has. Jeremy wanted an offer, the Knicks were stubborn and wanted him to test the market, he found a crazy named Daryl Morey, and the Knicks just got flattened, backed over, then run over once more by Bun B's Cadillac. Is there anyone that can fix this relationship? Don't comedies of remarriage have a punchline? It can't really be Jason Kidd running into a telephone pole... can it? 





...

I don't think anyone debates that Jeremy's value exceeds his abilities as an athlete. On the court, he's some combination of Ginobili's yardsale moves, Harden's goofy handle, and Jameer Nelson's janky court vision. He's a motley of strange skills, but the one thing he has is fearlessness we haven't seen since Allen Iverson. It's the type of thing you get growing up in Hampton, French Lick, or having Asian parents that make you kneel while holding buckets of rice over your head. I remember Carmelo bowing to Lin during timeouts early on, the disbelief on the faces of Knicks teammates, and the constant media questions about whether he could keep it up. All along, you could see that he believed in himself and it was inspiring.












15 comments:

  1. On the court, he's some combination of Ginobili's yardsale moves, Harden's goofy handle, and Jameer Nelson's janky court vision. He's a motley of strange skills, but the one thing he has is fearlessness we haven't seen since Allen Iverson.

    GOOD SHIT!!!! LOVING THIS ARTICLE.

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    1. This comment makes the most basketball sense. But as a non-Asian reader of this blog I can't deny that J-Lin is about a lot more than basketball. His story took my Giants and their Super Bowl win off of the back pages and I was so happy for him as a person and the Knicks as a whole. He put the rock in the bucket and had the city on his back. Gonna miss that dude.

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  2. the knicks fucked this up, no one else

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  3. Of course, here in Silicon Valley, we'll always think of him as a Golden State Warrior -- and one more item of evidence proving we are the incubator for miracles. But your valentine really means something.

    P.S.: You should spend some time in the Bay Area on your way back from Taiwan. I have been wondering how different your outlook on the intersection of food and race might be if you came up in this place instead of your own. Cooperative rather than competitive, Asian-norm rather than Asian-stranger, heterodyning rather than assimilation...the vibe here lets people be all they can be, and I'd love to hear your take on this (and other) places. To bring it back to JLin, I don't know if he could have bloomed as beautifully elsewhere.

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  4. Definitely ladiesbane... if I didn't live in Florida from 10 to 18, I don't think I have the same perspective I do haha... Florida not NY is what made me this cynical, specifically, Bush v. Gore 2000 hahaha.

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    1. Exactly! At first I thought these people were soft, but they are just...free, I guess. Not giving up my hardline, but it's nice here.

      And I mean it: get a travel show. Uncle Tony is drinking wine in the garden now, chasing his grandson with the bug sprayer. It's time.

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  5. he's better off, given he had to play with teammates like this POS: "It's not up to me," Anthony said with a laugh. "It's up to the organization to say they want to match that ridiculous contract that's out there."

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  6. "Lin penetrated it domestically. He looked like us, talked like us, and had a xanga like us."

    Oh wait, Jeremy Lin thinks he is a rapper too?

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  7. @alanhahn: To be clear, Melo wasn’t taking shot at Lin, he was taking a shot at Rockets for ridiculous $14.9M balloon in Year 3.

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    1. I doubt Melo was referring to the specifics of the contract, but allow me to add JR Smith's warning that "some guys take it personal, because they’ve been doing it longer and haven’t received any reward for it yet. I think it’s a tough subject to touch on for a lot of guys.”

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  8. Per http://deadspin.com/5926623/how-the-knicks-could-afford-jeremy-lin-and-other-questions-answered, no matter what the Knicks had offered any outside team would have trumped their offer:

    Why didn't the Knicks just give Lin a fair offer to begin with?
    They couldn't. As a player with Early Bird rights, his current team was only allowed to offer a first year at the league average—around $5 million—and raises of just 7.5 percent each year after that. The Rockets could give him whatever they wanted, and the Knicks could match that, but New York didn't have any choice but to wait for him to sign an offer sheet.

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  9. I don't know if y'all saw this - but it hit me pretty hard last night when I watched it in the midst of the 5 year old Knick fan in me dying...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdS11u1ScN0

    I don't think Asian-Americans or even basketball fans will ever see the like again of Linsanity. Even if he stayed - Linsanity is over.

    But I just can't believe that they've deprived me of the chance to witness - whatever the outcome, how this kid's story plays out IN NY...

    30+ years livin' and dyin' with the orange and blue...

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  10. Isiah Thomas ‏@iamisiahthomas
    Right handed point guards dribble all day with your left.

    https://twitter.com/iamisiahthomas

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  11. Yo B, I was out in NYC at the time, cooking at POk POk, the vibe in NYC was crazy for Lin... It was pretty rad to be around. Here is a few snaps i caught, while out the front of The Garden.. I hope you enjoy them!!

    Yo I ate at your spot a lot when i was out in NYC, i read your blog on the reg, also. Keep doing your thing homie!

    Bout it, bout it!!

    http://lukewawszkowicz.com/linsanity-nyc/

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