“I think the advantage of being an Asian basketball player in America is that no one expects anything from you, and no one thinks you are going to be good.” So says Jeremy Lin, the former Knick whose fantastic winning streak sparked the short-lived but high-flying sports craze known as Linsanity.
“The reason why I said it was an advantage is because everyone takes you lightly, and the minute you step out on the court, you give it to them and you immediately earn their respect, but no one is going to give it to you right away, not in America at least,” Lin said in Taipei this weekend, USA Today reported.
It’s a generous way of making lemonade out of the lemons that are the subtle bigotry which has stalked Lin the entirety of his NBA career. As one of the precious few Asian Americans who’ve made it to the NBA and the only Asian American in the league today, Lin has often been asked to make sense of the role his race played in his career, and his star-making turn this year. Sometimes he’s soft-pedaled the reality of race in America, and other times he’s been straightforward. After all, it was Lin who told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008 that basketball’s seen as “a sport for white and black people. You don’t get respect for being an Asian-American basketball player in the U.S.”
Yet before being sidelined with a knee injury this season, Lin demanded just that. Since signing a deal with the Houston Rockets, Lin’s been gearing up for the next season, and on a tour of Asia. On his agenda? Hosting basketball camps for young players there.