Jeremy Lin in the playoffs

Watching Jeremy Lin in the playoffs, it’s clear that he’s always had star power. The myth in the NBA that he was a flash in the pan was something constructed by the league itself, probably because:

  1. Lin went to Harvard, a school not very famous for basketball.
  2. He went for four years, not one or two.
  3. He’s a Chinese-American.

Of course he went to Harvard because none of the great basketball schools wanted him, even though he was fine player at Palo Alto High School. But he didn’t look like a great basketball player. His skin wasn’t the right color, I guess? Not too many Chinese-American greats in the NCAA? Could it be as simple as racism? This is something for basketball to take a good look at.

Carmelo Anthony couldn’t handle someone playing a starring role on his team, so he made sure Lin didn’t get the contract he deserved from the Knicks, he had to get it from Houston. Shortly after acquiring Lin, they signed James Harden, a guard who doesn’t share the ball. And Lin is a playmaker point guard, and to do that you need to have the ball. There was no room on the Rockets. So he was dealt to the Lakers, who were in rebuilding mode in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant, who didn’t actually retire until the end of this season.

Now he’s found love in Charlotte. He’s not a starter, and being the consummate team player he’s okay with that. They love him in Charlotte, of course — what’s not to love! He’s smart, has an incredible work ethic, his body is still young enough to take the bruising that being an oddball in the NBA gets you, and he makes shit happen. A game with Lin performing at his best is exciting basketball, the best.

And of course the Knicks, never going anywhere — what do they need most? A point guard. I think this is god saying “When you get a gift, don’t question it.” The Knicks said Lin wasn’t exactly what they wanted. So instead they got Raymond Felton (who btw, is now kicking ass in Dallas).

Lin is the reason I got interested in basketball again. His life is an incredible story. And in NYC, where there are a lot of Chinese, esp in Queens where I grew up, there was so much delight when he was on the Knicks. That was something special. When you see an entire community electrified that way, how could the NBA have not made sure he landed somewhere good for him and good for the league?

I have no idea what politics are like in the NBA, but they probably are like they are everywhere else. If you have the look of an NBA player you can be accepted. But if you don’t fit the mold, then you have to build a career the way JLin is building his. I’m not surprised that he didn’t fade away, it was clear he had the talent and the will to be a winner. Now it’s happening, and it’s wonderful to see.

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