Real reason I think Lin is a great story
There have been thousands of angry, passionate, insightful, thoughtful and, yes, dishonest words written interpreting my inappropriate, 70-character, 14-word tweet about Jeremy Lin. I will let you determine the sincerity of the righteous indignation of my critics.
Today, I want to interpret the Jeremy Lin tweet I fired off 24 minutes earlier last Friday night, before I gave in to immaturity and stupidity.
"NBA has a real Tebow. Jeremy Lin is legit! Great story! Amar’e and Melo should be embarrassed."
Jeremy Lin authentically represents everything some in the media want to believe Tim Tebow represents. Lin is a true underdog succeeding in an environment where his failure was assumed.
Lin played basketball at an academic factory, Harvard. Tebow played quarterback at a football factory, Florida. Besides some added muscle, Tebow, who is white, pretty much looks like every other All-American quarterback. We’ve never seen a point guard this good who looks like Jeremy Lin, an Asian-American.
Not only was Tebow a first-round NFL draft pick, he started at Florida ahead of a quarterback with more talent, Cam Newton. Lin was undrafted by the NBA. His hometown team, the Golden State Warriors, wouldn’t play him and eventually cut him.
The predominantly white Denver Broncos fan base pressured John Fox and John Elway to elevate Tebow from third string to starter. It took a rash of injuries and total desperation to get Lin into the Knicks’ lineup.
Until the past two weeks, Jeremy Lin was entirely unwanted by the NBA, and before that, major college basketball had little interest in him. The people who dominate American basketball on the court, on the sideline, in the executive rooms, in the stands and along press row do not look like Jeremy Lin.
That is not Tim Tebow’s football narrative. He was a highly coveted recruit, pampered in college, drafted in the first round by the NFL, and many in the media give him credit for victories his actual play had little to do with securing.
Jeremy Lin is the real Tim Tebow. Jeremy Lin is legit.
But there are even deeper reasons I think he’s a great story. And there are reasons I think Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony should be embarrassed.
Monday night I had dinner with Dr. Harry Edwards, the celebrated Cal-Berkeley scholar and activist. Living in Northern California, Dr. Edwards has followed the Jeremy Lin story for years. Dr. Edwards also helped me understand the cultural conflict between African Americans and Asian Americans that is most acute in California.
"Latinos have taken the jobs we don’t want and Asians have the jobs we can’t get," he explained. Dr. Edwards went on to describe the tension between inner-city African-Americans and the Asian store owners who do business in the inner city.
Dr. Edwards’ point was the inappropriate joke I thought I was cracking on a stereotype I share with Asian and white men was really a tweet that touched on something far more important and intense.
Jeremy Lin is performing and succeeding in a culture — the black basketball culture — that is perceived by many Asian Americans as hostile toward them. At the time of my real-Tebow-great-story tweet, I was impressed by the novelty of Lin’s ascension. I’d given no thought to the importance of it.
Jeremy Lin is a great story.
From the point-guard position, he has imposed his personality, his values, his culture and his style of play on the New York Knicks and, for the moment, those attributes have transformed the formerly underachieving Knicks into winners.
Amar’e and ‘Melo should be embarrassed. They have more raw talent than Jeremy Lin. They should wonder what is it about their personalities, their values, their culture and their style of play that didn’t allow them to impose a winning imprint on the Knicks.
Lin’s success, even if it disappears, should not be dismissed. There is something to be learned from the results of his play and the absence of two star hip-hop, AAU athletes, ‘Melo and Amar’e.
Yes, I played the hip-hop culture card. Hip-hop music is a capitalistic success. Hip-hop culture is an utter failure. The me-first, rebellious, anti-intellect culture directly contradicts all the values taught in team sports and most of the values necessary to sustain a civilized society.
I don’t get to pick which tweets my supporters and critics choose to interpret. In 140 characters, I can’t link to all the on-an-island-by-myself columns that directly contradict the absurd notion that I’m for the unfair treatment of any human being, regardless of color, religion, legal sexual preference, etc.
Writing columns that discomfort the comfortable and defend the vulnerable is far more important to me than being outrageously popular and irreverent on Twitter.