Posted on | February 27, 2012 | 13 Comments
NBA: Same Ol’ Same Ol’
It has been years since I’ve followed sports, basketball in particular. I watched the Knicks when Ewing played for them, that’s how long ago it’s been. And if you want to know how out of it I was, I’ve never watched Michael Jordan play. I’ve never tuned into his games. Yup, I was numero uno of the non-fan didn’t-give-a-rip coalition. Not a hater. Just distinterested. I just thought that Dr Jay never got his props as the better player, but he pre-dated Nike ads, so that’s how it goes.
I was into college basketball, the game was short, quick and the players were hungry. Something about the pros left me bored. I got the feeling that once they signed the multimillion dollar contracts, the hunger left them. They played soft. They played like satiated lions. Lazy and sleepy. Who wants to watch that?
Along with the stories of baby mamas, wife beatings, shoving a wife out the front door naked, sleeping with ugly white female reporters, gambling, bad attitudes, throwing people through plate glass windows, etc., etc. – I decided I wasn’t supporting those dysfunctional messes. Basketball and football held little appeal to me, especially with the recent spate of shoot-outs, fan beatings and gang symbols being displayed. Plus, I’m grossed out by all those ugly thugs covered head to toe in prison-style tattoos. I wasn’t interested in watching any major league basketball or football. Or any sport for that matter. Don’t get me started on those nasty spitting baseball players!
Change Comes LIN
So, here comes this young man who’s a bit different from the usual cynics in the basketball league. I’ve watched the YouTube clips of him playing. I understand why he suddenly has so many fans: he looks like he’s having fun. He plays with a passion for the game. It’s apparent that he loves to play basketball. He has no tattoos. I’m sure he’s not a saint, but I’m certain that people are tired of the bad boy, bad ass, tattooed big dummies. They are everywhere, in every entertainment field. And not only are they phony and talentless – they’re annoying. There’s nothing interesting in a rich angry irrational manchild. You wish they would take up the offer from an older man to teach them a lesson in a wrestling ring. Oh, what a great treat that would be.
Making People Go LINsane
Now, I understand that the media overreaction to Jeremy Lin, JLin, a.k.a. “Linsanity” was 3/4ths about his “race”. I’m still shaking my head at the things that have been said over the last three weeks, which already seems like an eternity.
There have a been dozens of puns that include “Lin” in the word: Air Lin, Linsanity, Super Lintendo… you get the picture. It was cute. A couple of folks at ESPN jumped the shark, thus losing a job or two.
Then came the jealous folks. Floyd Mayweather Jr was mad at the attention JLin was receiving. He said (paraphrasing) that black men do the same thing everyday in the league, but no one is paying attention. Well, the problem with that statement is that – if you don’t look like the average player in the league – people will notice. Sort of like when a heavyset white woman from the UK sings like a black woman blues singer. People notice those sorts of things. Hype may follow.
Jason “Witless” Whitlock (who has spewed racist / misogynist material about Serena Williams) decided to tweet something foul about JLin. But why did he focus on the sexuality of the young man? Why would an out-of-shape obese black man who is a sportswriter, not even a ballplayer, worry about the sex life of a young Asian man? Was he worried that an Asian male was encroaching on black male territory? Athleticism, masculinity, and sexual supremacy do go hand in hand. Did he picture a future where Asian men would be viewed as super-studs instead of black males?? Uh-oh.
Plus, “Witless” was so used to writing vulgar insults about black women, he didn’t realize other groups wouldn’t stand for the same behavior. He quickly apologized.
KilLINg Conventional Wisdom and Stereotypes
However, JLin did break all kinds of records with his initial “starter” games. He has played in the D Leagues, or maybe a few minutes in the NBA, but not as a starter. Once he was allowed, by the Knicks, to play point guard, he started knocking down some walls.
I’m surprised by the following, because I didn’t realize there were so many things achieved by Jeremy Lin. I always assumed they had already happened.
1) Harvard has sent very few (maybe a handful or half-dozen) players to the NBA. We’ve had more Presidents who went to Harvard.
2) He’s the first and only (so far) American, of Chinese / Taiwanese descent, to play in the NBA. Not the first Asian American, but the others were half-black or half-white, and the first was of Japanese descent before the various (American Basketball and National Basketball) leagues merged in 1976. He played for the Knicks too.
3) He was never drafted a.k.a. undrafted. No one held a lottery to pick him up in the league. He came in through the backdoor basically.
4) He’s managed to score 229 points in his first 7 starter games. Even for his first 4 at 109 points he’s exceeded everyone else since 1976.
Always Be Ready for Prime Time
Will he stay a superstar? Perhaps. I don’t have a magic 8 ball. And considering the short attention span of the public, who knows who they’ll love / hate in the next few weeks?
I do have some takeaways from the media-storm surrounding this young man:
- He’s proven that good luck really is 90% preparation and fortuitous timing.
- He worked on his weaknesses during the NBA lockout, doing everything he could to get into superb physical condition (6’3″ and 200lbs).
- He’s played against the number one draft and showed he could excel.
- When his chance finally arrived – he literally came off the bench as the last guy picked – he played his heart out to win.
He is responsible for helping the Knicks become a better team over the last 11 games. He helped them win 9 of them. Not bad for a rookie. Not bad for a guy who has faith in God, but also understood he had to do the work to get where he wanted. Just laying around and praying wasn’t going to cut it, he had to move, get it done and show with all his heart what he wanted.
He admits that the media attention is draining. Blake Griffin (big red slam dunk king and 6’9″ – dang) told him he has to learn to say, “No.”
I’ve been reading the Asian (blog / twitter) reaction to JLin. I’m (again) surprised at the angst revealed by the men. All I can say is, “Wow,” I had no idea. I’m not a guy, so my interpretation may be off, but I get the sense that JLin helps them achieve a sort of American masculine sexual ideal that’s been missing in the media or the general culture. They see white, black and Latinos in the superstar sexy beasts stratosphere, but they’ve never felt a part of that club. Interesting.
American culture is so anti-intellectual and dedicated to dysfunctional drugged up dumb-ass losers, that the highest income, best in academic achievement and most entrepreneurial men in this country feel emasculated and less than for being studious, responsible, dependable and stable. That’s the world we live in folks. Where up is down, right is wrong and the insane run the asylum.
I would hope that the lesson the other men (black, white and Latino) can learn from Jeremy Lin is to play earnestly, humbly, and make the game fun again. I’m sure most of them do, but it’d be nice if they were the norm again, and not considered the exception(s). The degenerates receive too much attention for their bad behavior and appear to be financially, socially and emotionally rewarded for it.
Last Lesson: Play The Game
As for the lament of the Asian American male, I’d say the reason why they are invisible is because, this may not sound nice, but it’s my perception: you gotta be in the game to win it. No one notices Asian men, because they behave in a leave-me-alone, don’t-notice-me, and I’m-not-gonna-make-eye-contact fashion. Black, white and Latino men are assertive. They will look people in the eye and say something. They will do their Alpha male thing.
So, if the Asian men want to be like the other guys in this society, they’re gonna have to take note of something else about JLin. He plays fearlessly. He may have learned at an early age not to isolate himself by just hanging out with his Asian buddies. When he speaks, he sounds like any other guy in the league (black, white or whatever).
I wish him well, and hope he continues to excel at playing the game.
Hey, you know, I’d say the Jeremy Lin Show has a lot of things we can all learn from.
** Update **
** Update Update **
I’m obsessed!! They should call him Maestro instead! Steals the ball and tosses to Shumpert. Beautiful.