I want to like Jeremy Lin, I really do. It’s a pretty cool story when a player comes out of nowhere and rips off a dominating hot streak. In June 1995, Mike Benjamin of the San Francisco Giants, a utility infielder and career .229 hitter, collected a MLB record 14 hits over three straight games. It was an amazing story, ensuring countless baseball nerds like myself would never forget his name. For die-hard NBA fans, Lin has done the same. However, if the media continues to cover him this way, I’ll do my damnedest to never hear it again.
Don’t get me wrong: despite his propensity to turn the ball over like John Wall, the kid is incredibly exciting to watch. Standing at 6’3 and weighing only 200 pounds, he plays much bigger. The way Lin drives toward the basket shows no fear. I love watching players like that. What I hate is the way Lin’s rise to fame is lazily portrayed by writers. For instance:
ESPN’s Rick Reilly:
But the best part is that Lin is a hoop hopes machine now. He gives every kid at the end of every high school bench, every college scrub who never gets a minute, every 13th man in the NBA … faith. Faith that someday, if he can finally get his chance, he can Shu them How.
The New York Daily News:
WE ARE ALL WITNESSES.
Got Christ? The Huffington Post:
New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin’s underdog story and outspoken evangelical faith have some sportswriters dubbing him the “Taiwanese Tebow.”
But while Lin and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow share similar Christian convictions, Lin’s rise to stardom is even more miraculous.
The normally reliable Emma Carmichael:
He’s looked positively at ease on the Garden floor, but we’re reminded that none of this makes sense, really, every time he breaks character to smile disbelievingly at his own play. Last night, Lin received the ball wide-open on the perimeter after a freakish Chandler tip and drilled a three-pointer with that awkward, follow-through-free jumper of his, just as the shot clock’s buzzer sounded. It was his 26th point of the game—breaking his two-day-old career high—and as he backpedaled down the court for Utah’s next possession, he attempted a cool, winking nod in Chandler’s direction. It lasted for about a second, and then he smiled like a kid and stuck out a Gatorade-stained tongue.
He didn’t know how to react. Neither do we.
Had enough yet? There’s a lot more, but I couldn’t bring myself to read another story about the “underdog Asian kid” from California who “fought” his way into Harvard College and then into a few NBA training camps before being cut. I understand there’s not much going on in sports right now, but seriously, how freaking lazy can you be?
Let me put this out there: anyone who plays professional sports is not an “underdog.” Professional athletes are the 1%: they are the luckiest people on the face of the earth. Jeremy Lin isn’t the scrappy Asian stereotype that Jason Whitlock or Floyd Mayweather so ignorantly portrayed. He’s a talented freak of nature, a one-of-a-kind man-child who is either on an incredible hot streak or is enduring (yet another) miraculous stroke of luck, showcasing his talents in an ideal offensive system, with ideal offensive teammates, with an ideal coach, against ideal opponents. Hell, even Mike Benjamin had his day.
If you want to talk about “underdogs,” how about the story of Thomas Robinson or Juan Dixon? Why are we idolizing a middle class kid with a seemingly-normal family who not only attended one of the best high schools in the country, but also went to Harvard? If Jeremy Lin never stepped foot on an NBA basketball court, his quality of life would likely still be superior to most of his fans. Lin is playing with house money: if he never hits another shot, he still can still catch the 2 train just outside MSG and ride it down to Wall Street and a $500K a year job in finance, no sweat. And now we want to make this a race and religion combo platter? Shoot me.
I like Lin. I hate the way he is covered. Please don’t make me root against him.