February 16, 2012

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.