Superficially, Jeremy Lin is a competent point guard with good court vision who emerged just in time for a team that needed a competent point guard with good court vision. Metta World Peace summed this up pretty well after Lin torched the Lakers for 38 points last night.
“He’s a good player, it’s really that simple.”
This is a nice thought: Jeremy Lin is a good basketball player. Nothing more, nothing less.
But to some, Jeremy Lin — or what Jeremy Lin represents, rather — is way, way more than that.
Gatsby’s, a Soho bar that’s usually populated by Long Island girls celebrating their 21st birthday and by 2 a.m. smells like industrial-grade cleaning solution (if you’ve ever wanted to fall in love in a hopeless place, this is that hopeless place), turned into a Jeremy Lin fan club on Friday night. Asian-American “bankers, teachers and tech entrepreneurs,” some of whom had never seen a basketball game before, flocked to this bar to watch Lin, someone who doesn’t look like anyone else on the court but who looks like them, play basketball.
And when he did things — great things — it was like some sort of clamp had been loosened.
There was a pause in the conversation. Daniel Chao spoke up. “I mean,” he said, in a slightly stunned voice, “an Asian-American dunked.”
Whether you want to admit it or not, you were conditioned to think that these things didn’t happen. And seeing it happen is firing off some sort of synapse in a cloudy part of your brain that’s exciting because it’s new.
For Asian-Americans, it’s not just exciting, it’s affirming.
Today on Reddit, a user relayed a story in which he explained to his wife why Jeremy Lin is so important. Here’s what he said (sic’d):
I’m an Asian-American and I want to share with you a conversation that I had with my wife today. She asked me why Jeremy Lin is such a big deal. I told her that this guy, this KID, represents something that we (asian american boys) were told was impossible: that we can’t be good at basketball.
-We’re too short -Too slow -Can’t jump -Can’t shoot -Can’t dunk -Can’t hit the 3 -Can’t dribble.
Jeremy Lin just showed us all that it IS possible. HE JUST SCORED 38 ON THE LAKERS. It goes to show that those dreams that were decimated when we were little shouldn’t have been destroyed. We should have believed that maybe it would have really been possible to fulfill that dream, instead of listening to all of those other people who said that it wasn’t possible. But this kid kept the dream alive and it’s reminding all of us of when we dreamt of hitting the game winning shot at the buzzer. He’s living that dream for all of us, and we’re living it out through him. Thank you Jeremy Lin.
So yes, Jeremy Lin is important. He’s more important than Tim Tebow. And he’s good, and will continue to be good. But even if, God forbid, he tore every ligament in his knee tomorrow and never played basketball again, his impact has been solidified. Asian-Americans can dunk. Asian-Americans can outscore Kobe Bryant. Asian-Americans can rock Madison Square Garden.
We know this, because we watched it happen last night.