Jeremy Lin has scored a few points with me

betty ming liu Inspiration 18 Comments

The Jeremy Lin phenomenon is such a personal touchstone for me. That statement will shock my friends because they know that I am a sports idiot. But hey, even I can change! 

During the earlier, happier years of my 18-year marriage, I spent a lot of time sitting courtside at Knicks games because my African-American husband was a huge fan. This was the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Patrick Ewing era. We took pride in watching all the terrific players who were black. I was also inspired by the fact that Ewing was born on the island of Jamaica — what a rarity to find an NBA star who was from an immigrant of color culture.

Back then, I remember my husband saying that maybe someday, I would know what it felt like to watch players that looked like me. The notion was so ludicrous that I totally forgot about his comments until just this second…

There are so many things that I never could’ve imagined because I grew up at a time when people always said “Asian-American” and “minority” in the same breath. My Chinatown childhood in the late ’60s was filled with public school teachers, TV new broadcasters and cops who were white (but somehow, the criminals that the media covered were always black). When I started out as a journalist in 1980, I was the first Asian-American hired at every single news organization that I worked at.

And now, look. I am still amazed that New York City’s Asian population has surpassed the 1 million mark. That’s more people of Asian heritage than you’ll find in San Francisco and Los Angeles combined.

If I’m babbling, it’s because I’m struggling to wrap my brain around the new reality. If I ditch my defensive, Asian old lady head, maybe the Knicks point guard from Harvard can teach me some winning plays.

So I’ve started reading the sports section of the newspaper and watching online highlights of Lin’s winning moves. Tracking “Linsanity” on the “Linternet” has been fun too. There was a story on that I especially liked: “Jeremy Lin Continues Internet Domination.” 

 This feels like starting over, like being 17 again.



Comments 18

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    ooopsie — my automatic blog delivery system sent this post out at 12:01 a.m., before i had cleaned it up. but it’s okay now. sorry to those of you who checked in early and read my draft. :)

    p.s. — i can’t believe i’m writing about sports. am i the only one? or are some of you also (re)discovering basketball and the knicks?

  2. You’re not the only one, Betty! LINsanity has hit our household too! I was actually going to e-mail you this morning to ask your opinion about blogging on this! Funny enough, the Giants’ Superbowl win has been overshadowed by Jeremy Lin’s talent and his underdog story. My family also appreciates that he is a Christian and flaunts the game, professionalism, and respect for his coaches and teammates. That is a breath of fresh air from some of the unfortunate drama that seems to follow some of the NBA’s star players. I love watching Lin, a fun guy with a respectable and fun image. I feel like you, sort of, that we have a player who ”looks” or acts like us. It’s an awesome pride, and I’m rooting in my seat night after night at all the fun titles like ”Super Lintendo” and ”Lincredible.” Cheers to Jeremy Lin!

  3. This is a fascinating subject. Living in the Bay Area, having friends of every look, religion, and persuasion is so taken for granted that one forgets the other reality. One of my oldest friends is ABC (American Born Chinese) and has shered his perspective often. The impact, for example, of Bruce Lee, an Asian male portrayed as charismatic, strong, and certainly no caricature on my friend was profound.

    In January he took his college age kids back to his Philadelphia home town. He had told them for years (as many of us transplanted East Coasters always say) that East Coast people were different, more down to earth. Travelling in the town, his kids were eager to see what he meant. The 2nd day in they were the recipients of vile ethnic slurs, along the lines of the Chinese taking over the world, blah, blah, blah. His son turned and said to him, “this is what all the fuss is about”?

    It is fascinating that while sports, itself, is enjoyable but trivial, role models like this really do change things. Here’s hoping we can all just see each other as fellow travelers – not dumb archetypes.

  4. Love your story about watching basketball with your African American ex-husband. Lin’s path is exciting and inspirational to anyone– but especially to Asians, the messages we get from our own community and society aren’t exactly reinforcing the idea that Asians can be sports superstars.

    I’m so not used to it, that I watch the story unfold as if I’m waiting for it to get taken away. I wrote about it on BlogHer:

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  6. I think the reason that Lin’s story is having so much resonance with non-sports fans is his demeanor. In every single interview and press conference he has shown no sign of cockiness or attitude that so many athletes demonstrate. Going from a nobody to having everyone want to wear your name on their shirt is an amazing feet, yet he still continues to act humbly. I hope this attitude spreads to all other athletes.

    BTW Betty, I think you’d enjoy this op-ed that was published yesterday…

  7. Hi Betty!

    What a great time for us! This has been the talk of the house for the past week with my husband posting on Facebook about Jeremy and his awesomeness.

    Jeremy’s rise to the Knicks was not meteoric. Even in high school, he was overlooked for who knows what reason by Stanford (although I have heard that they are very peculiar in their acceptance criteria anyway). What is the biggest takeaway that I am going to tell my daughters is that this guy had tremendous perserverance and did not abandon his dream the minute that it got hard. That is the true inspiration of LINsanity.

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    that’s ivan — that’s a cute column by jeff yang. and jackie, jeremy is indeed inspiring. but it sort of makes me think, how much does it really take to succeed in american society? jeremy needed a harvard education, god and a family that cheered him on. most of us would be lucky to have just one of those factors on our side.

  9. I agree with Jackie and Ivan, however Bob’s comments are interesting too. Regardless of all that Lin had, he still had opposition. And, I am sure he will face more. This new open door will bring a lot of racism and ignorance to the surface. But I’m glad that he has family, God, and a slew of fans on his side. Harvard, too. Nope, that doesnt hurt at all. Who wouldn’t be on his side with a graceful and humble attitude? His perseverance and humility make him stand out. Maybe his story will inspire us to be more supportive of the determined people in our lives and help them realize dreams that seem impossible. He is a new American Dream and will inspire lots to believe.

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      i grew up in a chinatown church and left it when i was in my early 20s — around jeremy lin’s age. the culture was just too oppressive, too many rules. but maybe the church scene has changed too because jeremy seems genuinely grounded. so you make a good point, skye. he will need his sanity because he is in for a crazy ride. btw, did anyone see this on a christian website, of all places? this link goes to a post that says kim kardashian has asked jeremy to go with her on a double date with her and her good friend, reality star lala vazquez, who is married to jeremy’s teammate, carmelo anthony. only in new york, right?

      karen m, i went to your link but it made no sense to me. sports talk is still a foreign language but thanks for sharing.

      the other karen — new world for us. good to be stretching a bit. :)

  10. Great post, Betty! I’m watching the Knicks for the first time in many, many years. All because of the amazing Jeremy Lin! Hope he continues on his path to basketball greatness! Inspiring for so many people, on so many levels.

  11. Who’s Jeremy Lin?? No, actually I got from your blog that he’s a basketball star. Cool. Maybe I’ll tune in if I can find the sports channel. And, you thought YOU were a “sports idiot”!

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      oooh, fun! i’ll bet your new h.s. hoops star saniya chong has an intriguing story. she looks like she’s multiracial or maybe her family has roots from a part of asia that is written about that much here. keep us posted! btw, i just had my morning tea with the new york times sports section. i can’t believe this is me…

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