HEAD CASES: Linsanity reigns as fans hold up faces of the New York Knicks's sudden sensation Jeremy Lin during a Feb. 15 game at Madison Square Garden. (Photo: John Angelillo/Newscom)
Casual sports fans are confirming what hardcore NBA junkies have known for a little while now — this Jeremy Lin is something else.
Lin, for those living under a rock, is a point guard for the New York Knicks, and is not only the first Asian American bona fide star in the NBA, but the hottest name in sports right now.
After enduring plenty of bench-warming on his third team in two years, Lin finally got his number called by Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni on February 6, and delivered a breakout performance — 25 points and seven assists to lead New York to victory. Since then, he’s continued to string together impressive performances as a starter, and until an inevitable loss last night, the Knicks rode Lin’s breakout heroics to a seven-game win streak.
This would be impressive on any NBA team. But by playing with such passion and fire in a media-saturated environment like New York, Jeremy Lin has captured the attention of fans, players and celebrities across the nation, garnering an undeniably palpable buzz known simply as “Linsanity.” He’s showing up not only on ESPN Sportscenter, but on The Colbert Report and the Huffington Post.
How big is Jeremy Lin right now? He got a standing ovation after hitting a game-winning three-pointer — by fans of the opposing team.
It’s no wonder that Lin has been called the Taiwanese Tim Tebow — on top of all the basketball hype, Jeremy Lin has taken a public stand as a Christian. He’s spoken at length about his faith in God and how it fuels him as a player and as a person. He even gave a shout out to gospel rapper Lecrae when asked about his favorite music.
And yet, I can’t help but wince, just a little bit, when I hear all of this effusive praise. I worry a little for Jeremy Lin, and it has little to do with basketball.
Lin’s ascent into the spotlight reminds me of another popular ball-playing Harvard graduate-turned-rock-star. Like J-Lin, our 44th president burst on the scene by making a big splash — instead of February at MSG in 2012, it was July at the DNC in 2004.
And just like Obama in 2008, Lin is attracting, along with the waves of adulation, an undertow of bitter resentment. A national sportswriter made a tasteless putdown regarding his sexuality. And boxer Floyd Mayweather asserted via Twitter that if Lin were Black, he would not be getting so much hype. And even though that smacks of more than a little jealousy, and probably resonates with a history of racial hostility between Blacks and Asians, there is a grain of truth there. Would there be this much hype for a non-Asian player? If he were White, maybe. If he were Black, probably not.
But that’s beside the point. The fact is, he is Asian, and that matters a lot. It matters to other Asian-Americans, and it matters to Blacks.
Lin and the politics of identity
Watching Lin as a Black man gives me a little bit of insight into what it might have felt like watching Obama as a White person in 2008. See, competition is often a zero-sum game, where one person cannot win unless another person loses. So J-Lin’s staggering celebrity touches a place of insecurity for some Black folks, because it feels like an intrusion into a place of previously held dominance.
AERIAL LIN-PACT: Lin shoots over Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas. (Photo: Mike Segar/Newscom)
The unspoken assumption is that Asians are supposed to beat you with a calculator, not a crossover. Sorta like a decade ago when Tiger Woods started tearing up golf courses left and right, and all of the White golfers who never expected that kind of performance from someone so young and non-White were more than a little miffed. When someone comes in and violates all of your assumptions, it can be a little disconcerting.
And that’s part of the reason why I want folks to slow down a little on the Linsanity hype train. It’s not because I don’t think he’s a good player. He’s clearly a very good player, and he has a chance to become great. But in the group-centered ethic of Asian American culture, Lin must know, on some level, that he is representing Asian Americans every time he steps on the court. The brighter the lights, the bigger the pressure. I know that Jeremy Lin doesn’t want to be seen as simply a marketing ploy or a gimmick, but the further out-of-proportion the hype gets from reality, the more he looks like exactly that.
I worry that Lin will be fed into the grinder of 21st century mass media, where we put our celebrities on pedestals just so we can knock them down when they displease us.
And the pedestal is much higher for a professing Christian.
Cult of Christian celebrity
Seems like every time there’s a high-profile young person with a Christian persona, the gatekeepers of the Christian establishment trot them out in front of the impressionable even-younger people, so that they’ll have a good role model. So I imagine that Jeremy Lin will soon have a publicist. If that person is good at her job, she’ll have him at conferences, concert appearances, and basketball camps throughout the offseason.
None of those things are wrong, of course, but I just hope he also has someone else in his life screening some of that stuff out, so that he can continue to work on his game and develop as a person. If sports is the ultimate reality TV, then Jeremy Lin deserves more than to become the next Christian reality TV star.
After all, the last NBA player that I remember having so public a faith-based persona when he entered the league was Dwight Howard. And that reputation has since taken a beating, not only for the hysteria surrounding his trade demands, but for fathering several children out of wedlock.
I hope that Jeremy Lin can be more than a bright star who flames out too soon. But part of what he’ll be needing to accomplish that is a little more time — to work on his game, and to find more ways to meaningfully engage his eager public. So if you really want to support him, the best thing you can give him right now is give him breathing room to play basketball player without the added weight of being the latest Christian celebrity or the shining representative of all Asian Americans.
Just don’t give him too much room, ’cause I hear he’s getting pretty good from distance.
1 U.S. POLITICS IS THE MEDIA THE APPROPRIATE REFEREE FOR POLITICS
The Federal Election Commission approved Stephen Colbert’s request to form a Super PAC. In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled decided that corporations, unions and individuals coulddonate unlimited funds to groups not associated with a candidate for campaigning purposes. This group is called a Super PAC. The decision is known as “Citizens United.” More interesting than Colbert’s approval to form a Super PAC, is the role Viacom can play. Viacom will not be required to disclose the financial information related to using Colbert’s airtime or staff to create TV ads. However, if the Super PAC’s TV ads appear during another show or on another network, Viacom will be forced to disclose the expenses involved. We live in a world where the media is influential in determining how a candidate is received and what information is made popular. The FEC’s decision to approve of Colbert’s Super PAC will open the floodgates for other media personalities to sway public opinion in the direction of their liking. Soon every talk major talk show host will have their own Super PAC.
2 WORLD WHAT IS PLANKING?
Planking has gone viral since it started in Australia, but still people are asking; what is it? Planking is the act of lying down face down with your arms to your side as shown below. But, the craze is based on the creative ways people are doing it. Even celebrities have joined the party; Orlando Magic ballers, Dwight Howard and Gilbert Arenas recently released photos of themselves planking. However, not everyone thinks planking is just a silly fad. Some have linked planking to the way that slaves were packed into the slave ships on “planks.” I doubt this is what anyone had in mind when they snapped their photo, but what do you think?
3 SATIRE ESQUIRE SUED OVER BIRTHER SATIRE
When Jerome Corsi released his book, Where’s The Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President, Esquire Magazine figured it was fair game to target the less than factual title with a satire of their own. Esquire’s Mark Warren then published an article titled “Breaking: Jerome Corsi’s Birther Book Pulled from Shelves!” Joseph Farah, the CEO of WorldNetDaily.com and Corsi have filed suit against Esquire Magazine and writer Mark Warren for over $200 million dollars for defamation and causing loss of book sales. I do not think this suit will hold up, but perhaps, comedians should steer clear of those with egos this large.
4 MUSIC MC CARTNEY: THE 1ST SUPERSTAR TO DIGITIZE HIS ENTIRE LIBRARY IN THE CLOUD
Cloud storage is new enough that I’m going to assume a lot of readers don’t even know what it is yet, but at 69-years-old, Paul McCartney is already on board. Instead of keeping a library of video-tapes, cassettes, and CD’s of all his music and videos, he stored them on a cloud with the help of Hewlett-Packard. The mysterious cloud, is a virtual library of files. It is not stored on your computer, but rather on the internet, and can be accessed anywhere in the world. The cloud is the future. Soon…we won’t even have computers as we know them. We’ll simply have screens that access clouds.
5 EDUCATIONNEWSWEEK’S 7 ONLINE COURSES WORTH THE MONEY
Here’s the short and skinny on the best courses, school, price, and avg. salary. Click the link above for more.
1. Paralegal Certificate – Boston University – $3,995/14 weeks – $46,916
2. Certificate in UNIX/Linux System Adminstration – UC Berkely Extension – $5300/240 credit hrs – $112,210
3. Master of Science in Forensic Pharmacy – University of Florida – $14,720/ 22 months – $100,000
4. Registered Nurse to BS Program – UMass Boston – $38,400/ 5 semesters – $62,450
5. Professional Certificate in Nutrition – Educational Facility Solutions – 10wks to 2 yrs/$1000-$1300 – $100,000
6. Healthcare Management Certificate – Excelsior College – 14 months/$7,280
7. Library and Information Science Degree – Drexel University – 3 yrs/$14,400 – $53,000
6 MONEY GEITHNER’S POTENTIAL RESIGNATION MAY HELP OBAMA ON ECONOMY ISSUE
While congress is being pressured to meet the August 2nd deadline for raising the debt ceiling, there is talk that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be leaving his position. Geithner’s family is moving from DC to New York and he has stated that he will be a commuter. Geithner led the response to the 2009 finical crisis, but high unemployment rates and slow economic growth will plague him and the White House in the 2012 presidential election. If Congress meets the August 1 deadline and Geithner resigns, theWhite House will have to begin looking for a new Treasury Secretary while Washington is consumed with the 2012 election. This could help President Obama send the message that he is able to put together a team that will turn the economy around. If Congress does not meet the deadline, Geithner will have the difficult responsibility of paying the country’s bills without using borrowed money. This means the government would be forced to either default on obligations or raise taxes by several hundred billion dollars. Either way, the economy will be the number one issue in the 2012 election.
7 TECHNOLOGYHTML5 MAY PUT ANDROID AND APPLE APP STORES OUT OF BUSINESS
Android and iPhone are the primary gatekeepers in the app world, but all of that may soon change. Recently, Financial TImes and ESPN released application for smartphones and tablets that run in your browser window. The apps were created in HTML5 which allows “video, offline reading, touch and gestural interaction.” Developers look for HTML5 to eliminate their need to build native apps for different devices which each have their own programming language. This also means that developers will no longer have to share their profits with Apple or Google, who “take up to a 30% cut of the revenue.”
8 TV ‘REED BETWEEN THE LINES’ STILL ON OUR RADAR
I gave our readers a heads up about BET’s Reed Between The Lines in The Pendulum a few months ago, but I’m back with more to share! BET recently released an ad campaign about the series and I have to admit that it is looking good! My interpretation is that the show is a 2011 version of The Cosby’s with a 30-something edge. It features a loving married couple, played by Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Unfortunately, they have yet to put the trailer online, but stay tuned!
9 MOVIES CHRIS ROCK TO STAR IN ROMANTIC COMEDY ABOUT PREGNANCY
Chris Rock will star in an upcoming Lionsgate film, What To Expect, When You’re Expecting. The film is an adaptation of a pregnancy manual and will provide “a modern look at love through the eyes of four interconnected couples experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby, and ultimately coming to understand the universal truth that no matter what you plan for, life doesn’t always deliver what’s expected. ” Rock will advise a group of expectant fathers on the importance of fatherhood. Ironically, the film will star Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Brooklyn Decker, and Anna Kendrick, none of whom are black women. Since Rock is a father in the film as well, I’m slightly bothered that they couldn’t show a functional black family in the midst of this comical piece.
10 CELEB OH NIA!
Nia Long has a tender spot in my heart but she has to be the beautiful glowing pregnant woman in Hollywood right now! The father is San Antonis Spurs foward Ime Udoka. Although this is her second child, she has expressed that she was shocked when she became pregnant. She called the unexpected news, “the sweetest surprise ever.”