The NBA season is just about to start, and how Jeremy Lin will do with the Houston Rockets will be a source of national intrigue. However, even if he fails in his new environment, his impact on the Asian-American community will never be forgotten.
Before Jeremy Lin shocked the world with his amazing string of performances, there really was not any sports figure for Asian-Americans to look up to. Sure, there was Yao Ming, but he was not someone who 2nd or latter generations could relate to because he was more connected to his homeland, whereas the newer generations tend to be more disconnected. Dat Nguyen, the first Asian-American to play in the NFL was not well-known despite his historic breakthrough in Football. In addition, Hines Ward being half-Korean was a little known fact outside the Korean community. Because of this lack of representation in sports, Asian-Americans, such as myself, were constantly faced with generalizations that highlighted the perceived lack of masculinity and athletic ability. The model minority myth that stressed a studious lifestyle away from the rigors of sports seemed stronger than ever . . . until Jeremy Lin exploded in his starts for the New York Knicks.
After bouncing around the league for a few years–he had an unsuccessful stint with the Golden State Warriors and was cut by the Houston Rockets before the season even started–it seemed as if Lin would never make an impact in the NBA; however, that all changed after Baron Davis got injured. Given an opportunity to start, Lin used his high basketball IQ and tenacity to average 18.2 points, 7.7 assists, and 2 steals per game while having a Player Efficiency Rating of 19.97. Soon, the whole nation took notice of this “Linderella Story” and one could not go anywhere without being bombarded with bad Lin puns. Linsanity took over, and as a result, the way Asian-Americans were perceived changed.
Asian professions, according to the media, are engineers, doctors, and lawyers. However, Lin’s rise in the NBA changed all that. Finally, there is a role model that challenges the stereotype that permeates in the minds of many. Asian-Americans are no longer always seen as the emasculated, wannabe thugs, or socially awkward nerds who turns red when they drink; there is finally someone in the spotlight that challenges the norm.
Even if Jeremy Lin fails this upcoming season, he will still be 100x the player everyone thought that he would be.