Some in the Asian-American community consider sudden New York Knicks basketball phenom Jeremy Lin to be of similar importance to their community as President Obama is to the African-American community.
“He’s like our Obama,” one Asian-American weekend basketball warrior involved in the technology industry told Time magazine, referring to how Lin is beginning to break stereotypes about Asian-Americans. Lin is of Taiwanese-American heritage.
During a visit to a basketball gym in New York, Time writer Sean Gregory explored how Lin is smashing the stereotype that Asian-American ballers are somehow inferior to others in sports.
“You do stereotype,” Shavar Stewart, one player at the gym, told Time after his team lost to one made up exclusively of Asian-Americans. “You do profile. But I think Jeremy Lin will start changing stereotypes. He already has.”
Lin’s story is an extraordinary feel-good sports saga. A 2010 economics graduate from Harvard, Lin found no takers in the NBA draft. Still, he continued to pursue professional basketball as a free agent. Picked up by the Golden State Warriors, he bounced between the Warriors and their developmental league team before being waived. He was briefly picked up the Houston Rockets before being waived by them too. The Knicks ultimately claimed him off waivers as a third-string point guard shortly after the strike-shortened season started in December.
On February 4, after riding the bench the whole season, Lin, 23, was given a chance to lead, and lead he did by scoring 25 points in route to a victory over the New Jersey Nets. The next game, Lin made his first NBA start. In his first five starts, he racked up more points than any player during their first five starts since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.
Since entering the Knicks’s starting line-up, Lin has led the team to a 7-2 record. Perhaps just as significantly, he has inspired a city and a community.
“There’s nothing wrong with being engineers, doctors or lawyers,” comic book artist Bernard Chang told Time. “I just think we should be represented in balance. Sports like basketball are a huge part of our culture. Success will help us stake our claim as Americans.”