I don’t really care about Jeremy Lin. Maybe it’s because I’m not a New York Knicks fan, or an NBA fan in general. It’s definitely not because I’m racist.
I just don’t think he’s worth all the praise.
But reading through any news outlet over the last two weeks, you’d think that not knowing Jeremy Lin was akin to not knowing who Barack Obama is. Headlines herald Lin’s unbelievable talent. More so, in a vain effort to pull something out of nothing, so many stories equally claim that Lin is the greatest thing to happen to the sport of basketball since Dr. James Naismith. Lin is a “cultural icon,” a “role model,” and (this one is the most over-used analogy) an Asian American icon for a minority demographic in America that is sorely in need of an icon.
I don’t agree with any of that. Lin is a good basketball player, and it ends at that. Lin is a Harvard-educated kid from one of America’s most affluent towns (Palo Alto, California), playing amongst a pool of men who have faced much harder struggles and are much more worthy of cultural praise for life stories than Lin. The media hype surrounding Lin is inflating a story that is hardly inspiring. There are scores of other NBA players who have proven themselves champions of adversity in their lives — emerging from broken families and neighborhoods, going to college, leading successful careers — and should be more deserving of such headlines.
The media infatuation of Lin is almost sickening. The Associated Press called Lin "the most surprising story in the NBA." Lin appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline "Against All Odds," which the New York Times called, "the greatest tribute."
Lin graduated from Harvard in 2010 with a degree in economics. He went to a Top 100 high school.
Let’s put the Jeremy Lin story in perspective.
John Wall is an NBA player, like Lin also a point guard, playing for the Washington Wizards. He is African American, like 82% of all players in the NBA.
Frances Pulley, Wall’s father, was in prison for most of his son’s early childhood, for robbery with a dangerous weapon. When Wall was 9-years old, his father was released from prison but died a month later from liver cancer. Pulley spent his last days on the North Carolina coast, at an ocean-front home with his family. Wall has said that the trauma of being with his dad at this time has made him despise the ocean.
Throughout his childhood, Wall’s mother worked multiple jobs to support Wall and his two sisters.
Wall bounced around high schools before landing at a school in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Wall was initially cut from the high school basketball team for attitude-related issues. Wall ended up spending five years in high school — having had to repeat his sophomore year —before going to the University of Kentucky as one of the nation’s top recruits. He was the first member of his family to attend college.
After only a year at Kentucky, Wall made the jump to the NBA as the first overall pick in the NBA draft, picking up a contract for three years and worth $16.59 million. Wall continues to take e-classes and summer classes to finish his degree at Kentucky.
Is Lin really the “Most Surprising Story in the NBA?” Hardly. Wall, like many other players in the league, pushed through much more significant obstacles to get where they are today. Jeremy Lin “against all odds?” Spare me.
In an America where a black man has a longer life expectancy in prison than in average society, Lin is anything but extraordinary. Eighty-two percent of the NBA is more extraordinary than Lin.
Is it wrong to scoff at the worthless praise of a relatively well-to-do, Ivy League-educated Asian American? Or is America wrong to use this man as the figurehead of minorities when there are hundreds of better men who deserve it instead?
Let’s face it, Jeremy Lin is nothing more than an over-hyped New York City headline.
Jeremy Lin and John Wall
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons