I am thrilled about the positively meteoric rise of Jeremy Lin. It’s exciting to see anyone become famous fast, but it’s meaningful beyond words to watch an Asian American man do this, and he does it in a way that is seemingly effortless and humble. He’s got a down home grace and his talent is undeniable. This is one of the grand joys of sport – talent is undeniable – and elusive, as it is something that wealth and privilege cannot purchase. Athletic prowess is built by ever devoted practice and a natural inclination towards the movements that create the game. There is will involved, in the practice portion, but the rest of the matter is out of your hands. You either have it or you don’t, and Jeremy lin has it. Boy does he ever.
What is remarkable is that his ability is unexpected, and because of his race, he had continually been overlooked and dismissed. His prodigious gifts came in a package previously unseen, so his value remained hidden behind the racial barriers we all pretend don’t exist. He’s not someone anyone thought could play, and that he not only can play, he plays better than anyone save perhaps Michael Jordan is the miracle of the moment, miraculous only in that his display of skill happened at the exact right time and place, it’s timing righteous enough to disprove and transcend casual racial stereotyping and the routine invisibility of Asian Americans not only in sports but practically everywhere. Lin’s game makes race feel inconsequential, even though we all know it is not. When I see him play, I feel like I am flying. I feel like the ball is in my hands and I can do anything with it. I feel visible and real and here. He reminds me of myself, not to flatter myself by any means, but I was successful in something more because I was not expected to be, the natural talent in me magnified by the delight/alarm at its discovery and the surprise factor was great enough to sustain me for more than a quarter century of constant employment.
I hope that Jeremy Lin enjoys a long career and is having fun now and continues to have fun. I am sure the sudden changes in his life can be trying. He’s a long way from sleeping on his brother’s couch already and it’s just been a few weeks. Show business is tough on some, and the line between entertainment and sports can be a brutal one to toe. His level of fame I have never quite gotten to, and so I can’t even imagine it. I hope he is bracing himself for the puns. I have had so many of them for my name including old classics like the cho must go on and cho’nuff. I have seen thus far “for your lin-formation”, the ‘lin-dex’ and I expect many more on the cho-rizon.
The best thing is if Jeremy Lin inspires an entire generation of Asian American athletes who now won’t be overlooked because of his success, who will enjoy even further success which they will attribute to watching him as they grew. I look forward to all that this fantastic young man will do and also to what he will lin-spire.