Jeremy Lin and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

Jeremy Lin and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations February 6, 2012

Sometimes compliments are the worst insults.

In early 2010, back when he was a Harvard phenom, I had the privilege of interviewing NBA basketballer Jeremy Lin.  We were still building this crazy thing called Patheos, so I met Jeremy at his dorm and used a $150 HD camera.  I presented the interview in text form (see Part One and Part Two) because Jeremy spoke in an immobile monotone.  Even so, Question 1 of my homemade interview has gotten over 36,000 views.  Suffice it to say that Jeremy Lin has a following.

He particularly has a following amongst Asian-Americans.  And some Asian-American young men, long stereotyped as timid and unathletic, nerdy or effeminate or socially immature — have fought back tears (which may not help with the stereotype, but is understandable under the circumstances) as they watched Jeremy Lin score 25 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds for the New York Knicks.  Here are the highlights, but the lowlights are the pseudo-compliments from the commentators, whose astonishment at Jeremy’s success speaks volumes:

I loved watching Jeremy’s aggression on the court and his enjoyment of the game.  I loved seeing his teammates’ celebration, since Jeremy has obviously won their hearts with his courage and kindness.  I did not love the belittling comments.  Now, I’m always reticent to cry “racism,” and I won’t cry “racism” in this case.  The commentators are not showing hatred of a race.  I won’t even call it bigotry — at least not bigotry outright.  If anything, they’re showing what President Bush famously called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”  Their astonishment at the sight of Jeremy Lin outperforming the other players, their consistent references to how exhausted he must be, and how “magical” a night he’s having (rather than a natural result of talent and hard work) suggests that they’ve bought into the stereotype of the physically inferior Asian-American male.

[Update: Yes, I know they have other reasons to be surprised by his big night — he’s never played so much and never scored so much in a single game.  I may be being unfair here, but I still hear echoes here of the same kind of “low expectations” that Lin has had to deal with, as an Asian-American basketballer, throughout his entire career.]

I grew up in the Bay Area with a Korean adopted sister and best friends who were Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipino.  I married an extraordinary Chinese-American woman, and thus joined her family and community (amongst whom I now live).  Even though I’m Caucasian, I’ve been around Asian-American communities long enough to see that Asian-American men and women face different stereotypes and different challenges.  Asian-American women by and large have a positive, helpful image in American society.  Although some Asian-American women will complain about stereotypes of submissiveness or nerdiness or asexuality, so many Asian-American women have become doctors, lawyers, reporters and businesswomen that they’re generally seen as intelligent, professional, attractive, friendly, and relatively innocent or untainted by bad attitudes and bad influences.  Even positive stereotypes can be confining, of course, but they’re better than negative ones.

For Asian-American men, in contrast, the positive stereotypes are few: they’re good at math and good at short-people sports like table tennis and gymnastics.  The negative stereotypes are legion: they’re the geeky, socially inept guys with coke-can glasses in the engineering labs; they’re the perpetual adolescents playing video games on their super-computers at thirty or forty years old; and they’re the physically and sexually immature, small and timid young men who can’t talk to girls and get their second jobs before they get their first kiss.

Like most stereotypes, these come from somewhere.  Recent generations of immigrants from Asia have come from the wealthy and the educated, so that the families who make it to the United States are among the most intelligent and ambitious that Asia has to offer.  Of course they tend to be successful.  If it was only the most athletic Australians who could manage the immigration experience, then Australian-Americans would tend to be athletic at a higher percentage than Americans in general.  Also, the sons of immigrants from Asia are pressed by their parents (and by their own sense of filial duty) into careers that are secure and financially rewarding, like engineering and medicine.  (Daughters are typically allowed to take a little more risk.)  Some Asian-American men grow up in ethnic enclaves where they’re relatively sheltered because their parents are (with great justification) suspicious of American cultural influences.  And they may begin romantic relationships later because their culture encourages them to focus first on their education and professional development.  Isn’t that a good thing?

But stereotypes are stereotypes because they’re intellectually lazy generalizations that only tell a part of the story.  They feed more off our ignorance and our fears than our knowledge and understanding.  The stereotypes I listed above do not describe the Asian-American men I know, or only offer a profoundly caricatured description of one part of their character.

Jeremy, like many Asian-American male athletes, is consistently underestimated.  Great basketball players don’t come from Harvard for a very simple reason: because great basketball players don’t go to Harvard in the first place.  They’re recruited by Duke or Kansas or UCLA or UNC.  A high school basketball player with Jeremy Lin’s statistics should have been recruited heavily by the nation’s top programs.  But Jeremy Lin was unrecruited and had to send video tapes and pitch himself.  He performed brilliantly in college, and many college coaches kicked themselves for overlooking him.  Then he was undrafted for the NBA — but performed well in the Summer League and was picked up by the Warriors.  Arguably, there are reasons he was overlooked other than race.  Jeremy isn’t the flashiest player; never the tallest or strongest guy on the court (he entered high school 5’3″ and 125 lbs), he has had to add layer after layer of skills and strategies and basketball intelligence.  But still, someone with his track record, someone with his statistics and all around game, would have gotten more notice if he weren’t a relatively small, baby-faced Asian-American in a league that has hardly ever seen an Asian-American succeed.

Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming

Jeremy is not Yao Ming, a 7’6″ freak of nature with tree-trunk legs who could have an impact even if he was not terribly athletic or aggressive.  He’s 6’3″, broad-shouldered, 200 pounds, and 24 years old — but he looks a bit boyish next to the towering hirsute beasts of Eastern Europe.  But that’s part of what’s great about him.  Jeremy cannot depend on his size.  He has to depend on skill, speed — and fearlessness.  Jeremy looks at the guys on the court, 5 inches or 10 inches taller than him, 50 pounds or 100 pounds heavier, and he can’t wait to take them on.  And he often beats them.

Standing in a room full of other Asian-American men, Jeremy looks like a giant.  Standing on an NBA court, he looks like those other Asian-American men looked next to him.  He represents them in the NBA.  That’s why Jeremy Lin is more than a mere basketball player for Asian-American men.  Many Asian-American men love basketball with a passion.  Some part of them may have bought into the stereotype themselves.  To be crude about it: could a guy like me, an Asian-American, hold his own on the court with these mammoth African-American super-athletes?  He takes their doubts and insecurities — and schools them on the court.

I asked Jeremy whether it felt like a burden to carry the hopes and expectations of so many Asian-American men upon his shoulders, and he answered that he couldn’t play for other people.  “I can’t even play for myself.  The right way to play is not for others and not for myself, but for God.  I still don’t fully understand what that means.  I’m still learning to be selfless and submit myself to God and give the game up to Him.  My audience is God.”  He does, however, have a responsibility to be a “godly role model,” and when I asked whether it would please him if his success shattered negative stereotypes of Asian males, he broke into a big smile.  “I would be pleased,” he said.  “Absolutely, I would be pleased.”

So would I.  You go, Jeremy.

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  • George C.

    Great post. There’s an element of disrespect for those undrafted and seem to be journeymen players, and that’s part of the disbelief. But as an asian person who’s played on enough playgrounds and parks, there’s a disbelief and shock when someone of asian background takes on and outplays black/white/ players. That’s reality for awhile.

    Having watched Jeremy in college, summer league, and the small snippets of his pro play, he’s got the tools to have a long career in the NBA. Not just the tools, but the mindset, because athleticism only gets you so far, but your willpower to continually get better and build up your weak spots in the face of constant competition is what makes NBA careers.

    As an AA, I expected that racism-disguised-in-low-expectation, and I think that shock value is helping Jeremy get noticed even more by others. I’m also finding the play-by-play/color-commentary shifting from shock (who is this kid?) to genuine respect (he might be the best guard on the team).

    The world is watching.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks, George. This is exactly what I’m talking about.

      • There is probably something to what you have to say. But you also have to take into account that this kid has never started a NBA game before. So of course there are low expectations. They also complimented him a lot when he made good plays. So I am glad you made the update… if you continue to hear this kind of commentator criticism in the coming weeks you are onto something. But after 28 points last night – there won’t be as much criticism.

  • Adrian

    Thanks for this article, Tim. It’s refreshing to hear attention brought to an attitude that often goes unnoticed in society. And it’s inspiring to see that Jeremy values his identity as both Christian and Asian American, because they’re both part of his story… and I hope other people see and value that, too.

  • Tara Edelschick

    Thanks for writing this, Tim.

    • Juan Fran da Silva

      Lin had been on the bench all season and was matched against on of the best players in the league in Deron Williams. It’s not unreasonable for the commentators to be legitimately astonished and their reaction is comparable to the 2010 game in which goran dragic seemingly came from nowhere to score 23 4th quarter pts against the Spurs. Soft bigotry in this case is an understatement.

  • Ben

    I see the point you’re trying to make, but writing about Asian-American men with such broad generalizations seems to be a greater embrace of stereotypes than TV announcers’ legitimate surprise at the outstanding performance of a basketball player to whom they’ve had such little exposure.

    Let’s be fair, Jeremy Lin has averaged around 3 points per game for his entire NBA career. To have a 25-7-6 performance is “magical” regardless of his race. I guarantee if Hasheem Thabeet (7’3″, 265lb 2nd pick in 2009 draft) were to have a 25 pt night for the Houston Rockets, his performance would be just as big of a surprise.

    • Actually, if Thabeet had a performance like that, we’d all agree that he’s finally living up to his expectations (though, yes, there would still be an element of surprise). Lin, on the other hand, has never had any expectations. Moreover, unlike Thabeet, Lin hasn’t been allowed to show what he’s made of until now. Even last year, he broke 20 minutes only twice (in the last two games of the season) and averages 9.8 mpg over 28 games.

      That being said, what I find most fascinating about Lin’s play is what Tim mentions: His fearlessness. That’s a necessary trait to play for the Knicks (especially for fans who remember the Ewing/Oakley/Mason team), and above all, that is what has shocked me the most about Lin.

    • Kam

      Yes, 3 points per game based on two minutes on the floor. Get it right next time or be precised regarding your statistical comments…just so you can be fair in what you are saying. Funny though too is that the stat line of 25-7-6 are on line with his play at all levels Lin played (high school, college, Summer Pro League, D-League) whenever he was given fulltime duty on the courst. Check it out yourself. Now that he has been given a starting role with plenty of minutes, his performances lately are not at all surprised.

      • Dominic

        That’s just not true. Very, very few players can be considered a lock to put down 25 points in the pros, even great college players at top teams. Just saying.

      • CM

        The majority of journeymen in the NBA (guys who have long careers but never average better than the bottom 25% of per-48 minute stats) had stellar college careers. Many of them were dominant in the CBA or D-league. Using his pre-NBA numbers as proof of his ability to succeed in the NBA, particularly when he never played against much future NBA caliber competition, is silly.

        I agree that there are lowered expectations, and that he’s going to be unfairly regarded as a novelty for most or all of his career, regardless of how good he gets. But at the same time, I think the commentators’ surprise at his performance given his relatively unknown background is totally normal and would have been the same regardless of his race.

        A better example than Thabeet: what if Dominique Jones on the Mavs, who I saw play for South Florida and dominate the competition there but who has done almost nothing in the NBA, suddenly started scoring 25+ ppg? The commentators would be equally impressed.

    • BenisRetarded

      You sir are dumb. You’re taking his ppg for a career where he never got a start. His stats are meaningless when he never got a shot. So “lets be fair here”, when given the same opportunity, what did he do? Look up those stats. The only people who were surprised by Dragic’s game never payed attention to the Suns. Nice try scrub, watch more ball, you might learn something

      Lol @ your Thabeet example. If he did have 25 pts, it wouldnt be magical fool. It would be expected and they will cry finally he has arrived and he isnt a bust. Theres a huge difference between being drafted and being a summer league pickup.

      • John

        You both have a point but he not dumb.

        JLin hasn’t had a chance to establish a reputation because of limited play. I think Ben is saying to any bench warmer throw up All-Star quality numbers is shocking.

        Not using this numbers to compare but to show that he was under the radar.

      • Lolz

        Hah. Where’s the like button?

      • Ben – The Retard

        I don’t get the point you’re trying to make. It also seems that you don’t get mine.

        My original point against the author of the article using the TV commentators’ surprise at Lin’s performance as basis for claiming their embrace of the Asian-American stereotype. My argument is that the commentators’ surprise was not based upon the low expectations set due to Lin’s race, but on his relative obscurity and low stats up until the Nets game.

        The Thabeet example was to illustrate the same point: Thabeet has had crappy stats, similar to that of Lin’s prior to last week (maybe a little worse). If he were to have an amazing 25 pt game, everyone in the league would be surprised as well.

        I’m simply arguing that the everyone’s surprise at the sudden amazing play by Jeremy Lin is not (solely) due to his race (and its associated low expectations), but to his prior unimpressive performance (granted the lack of significant playing time).

        More importantly than watching more ball, maybe you should work on your reading comprehension and learn something.

      • Ben – The Retard

        PS Roger’s comment below states my point much more elegantly.

  • Hi Timothy, thanks for posting this. I will be pointing people to your blog post, which I think every American should read. Thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t figure out myself.

  • Thank you for your article. As an Asian-American pastor who has faced racism on the mission field as well as my wife’s hometown in the mid-West, I appreciate your insight. However, I also think a large part of the commentators’ surprise is Jeremy Lin’s (a personal acquaintance) track record in the NBA as well as playing in the D-League (albeit considered by many to be the top player in the League). To make race the main issue can be dangerous and inappropriate. Perhaps race is an issue, but it isn’t the main issue.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I’m really paying for not inserting a line saying, “Yes, I know, some of their surprise comes simply from the fact that he’s a second-year player and a third-string guard…” I do know this.

      • Lee

        Hi Tim,
        I’m an AA and a former athlete, which I think gives me a good foundation from which to comment on your piece. I understand that I’m uniquely positioned as a Korean-American who is, 6’1″, a former 2-sport athlete, and slightly Aryan-looking, but don’t discount what I’m writing – just hear me out, please.
        Overall, I found your piece really well-written and intriguing, but I think you erroneously conflate two competely distinct issues: (1) the challenges AA’s face in the basketball world; and (2) the challenges AA’s face in the real world (American society).

        The challenges AA’s face in the basketball world are many, but they are not unique to just AA’s. Genetically, Asians are shorter. Compounding the issue, because interscholastic sports are not often encouraged by AA parents, there are not as many AA’s dedicating themselves wholeheartedly to athletic development (and far fewer AA’s with parents hell-bent on getting them to the pinnacle of athletic success). This may change as we start seeing more 3rd generation AA’s in this country, but frankly, if you ask me how many 6’5″ high school AA’s play HS varsity basketball for respected programs, I’d probably say less than 10. I’m hard pressed to believe that the pro basketball world lets stereotypes of Asians influence their personnel decisions. Coaches and GM’s may have stereotypes, but that never prevented them from bringing Yi Jian Lian over from China for his on-court versatility, or Wang Zhi Zhi for his height and shooting ability. At the high school and college level, I attributed an AA under-representation to coaches’ general underexposure, or unfamiliarity, with solid AA players. Because there are so few AA’s gifted with a combination of height, speed, finesse, and parental enthusiasm for sports, these coaches simply haven’t seen enough of a track record to be able to “trust” AA athletes. This will soon change if more Jeremy Lin’s are produced. He can help to pave a very solid and permanent road for AA basketball players nationwide, but that still doesn’t change the fact that 99% of AA’s have no chance at playing D1 ball because they’re 5’11” or shorter. Because of these very obvious facts, I think it was a mistake to view AA stereotypes through a basketball lens. Was it wrong that coaches overlooked Jeremy Lin? Yes. Is it wrong if commentators underestimate him because he is an AA? Yes. But, this is all because of unfamiliarity (which I discuss next), and this unfamiliarity is partially our own doing.

        NOW, with regard to your comments regarding the stereotypes and challenges AA’s face in American society, I agree that they exist, but I think your piece makes it sound all too external (the world against us) as opposed to reflective/internal (what we as AA’s have done to perpetuate stereotypes and what we need to do to overcome them). As someone with experience in both the legal and business worlds, I can admit that I often see a surprised look on people’s faces when they hear me speaking eloquently with no noticeable accent (insulting and flattering at the same time). People also seem slightly surprised when I talk about my love of sports, or reference my interscholastic athletic career. But, the most surprised reaction comes when I show them a picture of my blonde caucasian wife. Of course, this is all a result of the same stereotypes and endemic underestimation that you speak of.

        Throughout my life, I’ve struggled to come to grips with my AA identity. I’ve analyzed it countless times in my head. Do people discount me because I’m Asian? Do they think I’m more effeminate than a white guy with similar characteristics? Do they think I can’t get girls? Do they think I can calculate 18% tip for a $374 dinner bill and split it 9 ways on my head? At one time or another, the answer to one of these questions has been, “Yes.” But, rather than asking these questions (and judging/criticizing those who carry these stereotypes), we should be asking, “What can we as AA’s do to overcome these stereotypes?”

        There are things AA’s can’t change. The lack of height, the lack of facial/bodily hair, super smooth (sweet) Asian skin, the fact that we always look 10 years younger than a white person of the same age, straight (sometimes childishly spiky) hair. But, I sincerely believe the biggest barrier preventing AA’s from overcoming these stereotypes is a failure on the part of many AA’s to “put themselves out there.” I know it sounds cheesy and overly simplistic, but my own experience tells me that it is a major source of the problem you cite in your article.

        I grew up with very traditional Asian parents. They weren’t friends with any of the other parents at school (unless they happened to be Korean, too), and they certainly did not encourage sports. When I decided to play sports, it was my friends’ parents that drove me to my games, my parents were never in the stands and they constantly told me to quit playing altogether, but I didn’t – I kept going. I was among the lucky AA’s who realized that their parents were just disconnected from American society and didn’t know any better, so I kept playing sports against their wishes. I’m glad I did because sports were a wonderful gateway for me. I grew up going to the same all-Korean church that my parents went to. It was a spiritual help, but it created a dangerous social rut. After years of hanging out with my Korean church friends, I realized a very cutting irony – I was living in America, but 100% of my friends were Asian. I was living in a comfort zone, surrounded by people that acted like me, talked like me, looked like me, and had parents like mine .. and I had no desire to break out of this.

        But, my love for sports forced me to break free from this pattern – the pattern that countless other AA’s continue to follow. In the locker room and on the field/court, I was forced to interact with other Asians, caucasians, blacks, Indians, Jews, Russian immigrants … you name it. I was forced to put myself out there. I let other people get familiar with who I was, and found out who they were in return. Teammates turned into social friends, and I learned invaluable lessons from those diverse friendships. One day, I was taken aback when a friend said to me, “You’re not like a normal Asian.” Of course, he was ignorantly referring to the “other” Asian kids that he was less familiar with – the ones that only hung out with other Asians and never tried out for sports. But, I was just as “Asian” as those kids. I spoke Korean, ate my mother’s kimchi for dinner, and bowed to my grandmother every year on New Year’s Day. The difference was, I was given a prime opportunity to “put myself out there” and “let people in” – we had transparent knowledge of the differences and similarities between us, and it prepared me for productive life in the real world, where I am continuing to break down more negative AA stereotypes.

        Simply put, what I learned from my experience in sports is that AA’s need to put themselves out there if they want to overcome detrimental stereotypes. AA’s need to show a willingness to interact with non-Asians and relate to them. I will go as far as to say that in many of these interactions, AA’s are the ones that need to reach out their hand first. This takes courage, but it’s the only way to let he world know that AA’s are real, normal people, just like everyone else. Of course, we will always look different, but people need to see that we ARE cool, we DO get the girls, we are NOT all shy, we are NOT all good at math, and we are NOT all antisocial. But, the only way people can see this is if we let them get familiar with us. We need to be the ones taking the initiative and going out to the masses. If we fail to act, we will always be underestimated.

        Jeremy Lin has undoubtedly impacted AA’s on two fronts: AA’s who don’t want to be underestimated in sports and AA’s who don’t want to be underestimated in general. But, what he needs to do to really have an impact for AA’s is use social media platforms, the media, appearances, etc. not only to show how unique he is, but also to show the masses that he’s just another regular guy who happens to have an athletic gift. When the masses connect with him, they’ll be less affected by pre-conceived stereotypes the next time they approach one of us. That’s the truth and I hope he capitalizes on the highly visible platform he’s been given.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Love the reflections on your own experience. As I said elsewhere, I don’t agree that challenges AA’s face in the rest of society can be neatly divided from the challenges they face in the sports world. But I strongly agree with your point about putting oneself out there. Excellent.

          • Lee

            Thanks for the reply comment, Tim. Really superb article and very timely.

        • JC

          Lee, I don’t think your experiences are that singular or exceptional. There are alot of AA’s who have been athletes, maybe not divisional one, full scholarship but athletes or walk-on’s at Div. I.

          I suppose your played in high school or small college bc you name everything exceptional about yourself, except naming the specific universities.

          Even more so, are ASian American women, if you see every year, there is 5-6 playing D 1 baskeball at the Ivy league and Pac 10 schools. 4-5-6 in each of the 2 leagues.

          Many of the Asian Am families now have very tall sons and daughters, believe me 6I have cousins who are 6-6, 6-4, and 6-3 and 6-3 and a brother 6-2. These are heights without shoes. My father was previously an athlete in Taiwan, a swimmer, about 6-1/2.

          Despite this, the crazy stereotypes persist about Asians being small, short, skinny, etc. Every time I am out with my cousins, people say that we couldn’t be Chinese or Korean, we have to have some caucasian blood. It is a function of this society that creates this too.

          They have the black-white tension, dynamic in which African Americans have shown themselves to be the superior athletes. And if you look at Mark Jackson, Derek Harper, Magic Johnson and Doc Rivers, these guys had exceptional IQ’s basketball and otherwise.

          White society does not need more tension, more competition, they need an easy winnable opponent. That is us. It seems no matter how tall we are in reality, in Am. media, we are short scrawny etc. We are the winnable opponent, those stereotypes are here to make White people feel better, winners, Roman Empire, American Empire. These stereotypes are constructs of the society as much as they are based on reality.

          • Lee

            Appreciate the thoughts JC, and can understand where you’re coming from, but to be honest, I disagree with the antagonistic chord you strike with the “winnable opponent/Roman Empire” talk.
            If you go back in my previous post, I concede that some of the height/exposure to sports issues will fade as more 3rd generation AA’s enter society. A lot of them will be bigger, encouraged to play sports (more importantly, not discouraged from playing sports), and therefore, you’ll see percentages of AA’s in D1 and American Pro sports go up. All I was saying is that when you’re trying to explain why you don’t see a lot of elite basketball AA’s, you have to take into account hereditary traits (indisputably lower average height), cultural factors (lower relative importance of athletics in Asian culture), and the lack of exposure coaches have had to big, athletic AA’s to date. This will change. I do not doubt that you and your cousins average 6’3″ in height – but that does not change the fact that you’re still in the 99th percentile in height for AA’s. Last time I checked, 6’3″ only cuts it for 1 of the 5 positions in an NBA starting line-up.
            My comments on AA’s from a social integration standpoint still stand, and your rather cynical statements only support my point. If AA’s continue to think that it’s “Us against the Whiteys,” then we’ll just continue congregating exclusively amongst ourselves and never really break through these stereotypes we are complaining about. Many of us AA’s work with whites, blacks, Indians, etc., but that’d not good enough. When’s the last time you invited a white co-worker out for a beer? For dinner? For an introduction to Korean BBQ? If you have done so, do you still find that this friend is stereotyping you as an asexual, antisocial, nerdy, etc. guy? Our parents didn’t come to America with hopes of slaving away for 1 generation and raising a generation of ethnic Kings. They came here so that we could make a life for ourselves by mixing ourselves into the ultimate free melting-pot of a society. Yes, we are entitled to preserve aspects of our common Asian heritage, but we don’t have to shut out everyone else in the process. If we as AA’s put ourselves out there – share our differences AND discover our similarities – eventually, stereotypes (which will always exist) won’t matter anymore.

        • JC

          Lee, I never said 6 3, but I did say 6 1 or a little more.

          When you asked me when was the last time I asked a white co-worker out to lunch, went out with a white woman or whatnot, I think you made a mistake there. I did not grow up among Asians. I grew up in Eastern Kentucky and Northern Maine. I am full Asian but was raised by my dad and an Irish American woman who was my 2nd mom. I guess you could say we mixed in.

          But I do want to tell you this, the rules (supposedly)you should be this tall, you should do this sport and that and the other. But what if you do A, B and C and you are still not accepted. That is called prejudice.

          Identity as well as assimilation are two way streets, it not only important what or who you think you are, but how receptive the other person is on the other side.

          I am not purposely being antagonistic, simply that this trope or stereotype of Asian nerd, scrawny geek, is based on some truth of course and some of what Americans and American society wants to see and believe.

          I will also tell you this, no matter what the stereotype is of Asians, whether good or positive, they are held much more tightly, held much more firmly to this group called Asian Americans than they would be to a couple of minority groups including white ethnic groups such as Irish or Jewish.

          • Joe

            Just to add a quick note: Don’t ever try to base an argument on the NBA. Even “whiteys” get overlooked for spots due to the fact they aren’t black. This isn’t meant to be incendiary, just a statement of fact. If you aren’t a 6’6″ black guy with phenomenal skills, you will be overlooked until they need someone to simply fill that spot. AA’s aren’t the only ones that get overlooked. BTW, please don’t try to bring up the “well there’s plenty of white guys in the NBA” argument as those are almost exclusively European players. The limitations of American school systems keep most from playing where in Europe, kids can get into serious sports schools and workout and train constantly to get those NBA contracts.

            Just sayin…

          • Great input, JC and Lee. Interestingly, in the Caribbean, at least in Jamaica, there has been an Asian complement in society since the 1800s, to the point where many of the businessmen are Chinese. I agree that when the third generation Asians do come around, you will see more involvement. Jamaica is clear evidence of this; some of the best soccer and cricket athletes were of Asian heritage, and are some of the most ardent fans.

            I think it is good for America to experience the true ethnic diversity in all facets, so there can be a real appreciation of the cultures that now make up the US. But thank you for your most interesting input, and thank you Timothy for your VERY good piece. I wish journalism were more like this, instead of poorly crafted op eds. Well done, all.

        • Mav

          I couldn’t reply to your other post below, so I’ll reply here. As in the case of all stereotypes — this includes women, blacks, latinos, so on and so forth — there is always an element of self-identification and self-perpetuation of that stereotype through behavior and not “putting yourself out there”. But to discount the effect of media representation and flat-out prejudice is simply naive and wrong.

          Asian Americans are underrepresented at a much greater rate in the media than other minorities, and those representations are invariably that of awkward inarticulate (or accented) geeks. For many people in many societies that’s the only exposure they have to Asians, and they build stereotypes based on that.

          This is definitely not something that’s exclusive to Asians — black nerds, female athletes/geeks, and many other people experience this type of pigeonholing all the time. But pretend that there *isn’t* a large external, societal component to it, no matter *how* much you have gone out of your way to put yourself out there is doing a lot of idealistic kids and society at large a disservice.

          • JC

            Nice, totally agree.

  • CC

    As an Asian American myself, I wouldn’t necessarily say the commentators were stereotyping. If you watch alot of NBA basketball these seem to be comments normally made about bench players. Bench players don’t play a lot of minutes and are usually expected to be very tired at the end of a game due to their pack of play time. And of course its a big deal when a bench player outshines a starter.

    I don’t think Jeremy Lin should be brought into an argument like this about stereotyping.

    – jeremy lin supporter

    • Jacob

      I absolutely disagree with Tim. I watch a lot of Knicks basketball to know that Mike and Walt’s comment are of their usual nature. They were similarly surprised when Landry, Toney, and Iman had their own spectacular games.

      The commentators only know the information that is in front of them. Lin was an NBA bench player with limited minutes, from a school not known for basketball. There is no reason for them to assume Lin could play at a higher level, a level that ESPN compares him to the top guys this season in PER. A level that compares his first start to Isiah Thomas’ first start. I would say that these numbers would be magical for any player, Asian, white, black, or otherwise.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        I’ve responded to identical comments several times now. I feel as though the majority of the comments have concerned the commentators — which was really not the heart of my concern. I can’t know for certain what was in the heart of the commentators. I’m more interested in what Lin represents for Asian American men.

  • Ben

    P.S. 6’3″ 200lb is NOT small in the NBA at the Point Guard position, especially considering elite PG’s such as Chris Paul (6’0″ 175), Tony Parker (6’2″ 180) and Steven Nash (6’3″ 178). In terms of size, Lin arguably has an advantage over many smaller players at his position.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      On the one hand: Yes, I know. I’ve followed the NBA since very early childhood. On the other hand: I wasn’t comparing him against other guards, I was comparing him against the other players on the court at the same time.

      • JC

        Second point should be known. LIn is going to far on the honesty bit about his size. Mitch Richmond who I saw once at a houseparty is about 6 2 1/2 or maybe 6’3′. He always listed himself as 6 5 NBA height.

        John Starks formerly of the NY Knicks was 6 3 or 6 3 1/2 height and listed himself as 6′ 5″, thus a big guard.

        Ray Allen of the Celtics is 6 3 1/2 without shoes and lists himself as 6’6″. Luke Walton who I met many times is 6 4 without shoes and lists himself as 6′ 8″.

        Lin is 6 3 no shoes or socks on as was measured at the Portsmouth Invitational. He should be listing himself ast 6’5″ but he doesn’t. He is not only a big guard, he is a big China___ guard ( and when I use the putdown, Ch man, I mean it in a Frank Chin type of way, were we turn the putdown into a positive, because when you are Asian in the field of sports, this is about the lowest man on the totem pole in regards to respect, unless you are playing in an all Asian league of course.

        • BenisRetarded

          really, you just learned that athletes lie about their height?! Whats next Santa isnt real?

          • JC

            Ben don’t know if you are making fun of me or not,

            I am pointing this out to you as a matter of fact when you by your first article, state that ” Lin is not that small of a guard”

            I am point out that not only is he not that small, he is actually in NBA parlance, a ” big guard” so if had known that all these players such as Ray Allen, Walton, John Starks were the same size as Lin, why didn’t you mention it.

            Tony Parker is 6 1, Steve Nash 6 1. Don’t try to turn it and now make fun of me, you should have realized this in the beginning.

            In NBA parlance, Lin should actually be a big guard. You are the one who missed out on this fact.

        • Ben

          JC I apologize for the confusion. I absolutely agree with your point that Jeremy Lin should be considered a “big guard.”

          The person with the screen name “BenisRetarded” was intending to make fun of me, not you.

        • Rav


          Ray Allen was measured at 6’5″ with shoes at the pre-draft camp according to the database at Most players are listed at their in-shoe heights – which is quite alright, since, for the most part, they wear shoes while playing.

          If you saw the Celtics-Knicks game you would have seen that Ray Allen in shoes is definitely taller than Jeremy Lin in shoes.

          • JC

            at Uconn, he was measured at 6 3 1/2 no shoes. He was a Uconn guy at around when I was in college. Lin at Portsmouth was measured at 6 3 while wearing socks.

            Notice Allen I don’t know about this, year but he used to tell everyone that he was 6′ 6″.

            Ok, I just checked espn, Allen is going by 6 5 now. But he is 6 3 1/2 or so he says no shoes. I doubt that you could tell the difference in height by TV. Look at Allen, he looks pretty short.

          • JC

            From the Portsmouth Invitational Measurements, 2010


            -All measurements are listed without shoes. To get a gauge for what a player would be listed at with shoes, add an inch and a quarter. We looked back at our measurement database (which includes every NBA pre-draft camp since 2000) and found that players gain 1.2 inches on average from being measured in shoes, as opposed to without.


            -All measurements are listed without shoes. To get a gauge for what a player would be listed at with shoes, add an inch and a quarter. We looked back at our measurement database (which includes every NBA pre-draft camp since 2000) and found that players gain 1.2 inches on average from being measured in shoes, as opposed to without.

            Official measurements at Portsmouth:
            6′ 3″ without shoes
            201 lbs.
            6’5″ wingspan
            8’2″ reach

            I would say this, if I were Lin, I would list myself at 6 5 and Lin is now around 210. You would then be a big guard and more highly coveted when you one year contract prorated for this season ends.

          • JC

            No bust me over 1/2 inch.

            Any more argument over that and I am going to put you in a room with Jason Whitlock (don’t take that personal please, I am just kidding and that is a dig on him not you).

            It’s the curves not the inches. Also Ray Allen is about 6 3 not 6 3 1/2. The reason I say this is because he was always talking about the Benjamins and b ball even when he was 20. Some of those guys, not necessarily him would lean up just a little to get that little edge of half an inch taller. Because in their mind, more of whatever the NBA is measuring means more Benjamins.

          • JC


            Monday, April 19, 2010Measurements Look Good!
            The official Portsmouth measurements are out and they look very good for Jeremy:

            6′ 3″ without shoes
            201 lbs.
            6’5″ wingspan
            8’2″ reach

            Although his wingspan and reach are not great, his height and weight are.

            Here are some comparison heights without shoes according to Draft Express Measurement History:

            Jason Kidd
            Chauncey Billups

            Kirk Hinrich

            Jarrett Jack
            Beno Udrih
            Baron Davis

            Randy Foye
            Russell Westbrook
            Monta Ellis

            Stephen Curry

            Deron Williams
            Jerod Bayless

            Derrick Rose

            Steve Nash
            Mike Bibby

  • Shiv Gaglani

    Great points and extremely well articulated.

  • William Woo

    In my mind, I hear Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” which came at a time when the American Public would doubt that an African American can be a leader in society…probably not the same situation.

    Great article, thanks!

  • dave

    The most devastating effect of stereotypes is the fact that the people in question often start to internalize the stereotypes. Externally imposed stereotypes can always be fought, as there will be exceptions to the rule. But in the case of Asian Americans they’ve largely accepted stereotypes of being weaker, smaller or less athletic than their black and white counterparts and Asian Americans largely self-discriminate from participating in sports. Along with active discrimination, such as Jeremy experienced: not getting any D1 scholarship offers and not being drafted despite having sterling accomplishments, size and skill… the stereotype becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    For example take Taiwan. There are 15 million Asian Americans, 2/3 the size of the entire population of Chinese Taipei. Over the years Taiwan has won a few dozen summer medals and just in the last decade sent a half dozen players to MLB… you’d expect corresponding success from Asian Americans but due to self segregation you rarely see Asian American athletes even in the sports that other Asians compete in.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I agree with the self-selection on the basis of an internalization of stereotypes, but I’d also point to the way in which Chinese culture in particular does not glorify athletic success (particularly prior to the run-up to the Beijing Olympics) as much as it glorifies success in other areas. So, my AA friends have always had less support for their athletic pursuits than my Caucasian friends (and I) did.

      I don’t think this is a bad thing. I think it’s entirely reasonable, actually. Athletic success is rare and fleeting. But the lower priority placed on sports in Chinese culture is a part of why there are fewer Chinese athletes at the elite levels of professional and Olympic sports. That changed in a major way in Beijing, as this country of 1.3 billion people saw winning medals as a major public relations coup for the country and the Party. But historically, I think it’s accurate.

    • JC

      But have you seen those schools in Taiwan before, they are baseball schools, the kids coming out of their can barely read and write. All they do all day is study (seriously) and play baseball–I mean studying baseball techniques, reading on it, etc. Taiwan has sports schools where you specialize to become a PE teacher as your future. It’s not the same thing as playing sport of your own volition.

      However I would agree with your self limiting of Asian Am’s due to low expectations in our society for them athletically. And self segregating in leagues or whatnot.

    • zz

      That may be a factor but also keep in mind (as mentioned in the article) that a lot of the Asian Americans that immigrate to the US are ‘selected’ based on intelligence and education and not athleticism. So I think it’s pretty natural that most asian families here would place more emphasis on education for their children as well.

      I don’t think it’s necessarily true that Asians don’t glorify athletic success, China definitely places an emphasis on Olympics even way before the Beijing Olympics happened.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        I agree with your first paragraph — and actually made that point in the article. It may be more of an Asian-American than an Asian thing when it comes to glorifying athletic success; it certainly was not emphasized, and was even belittled, in the AA families I’ve known. That’s just a generalization, though.

  • Decent article. His parents are from Taiwan.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Yep. I believe he’s the first player from Taiwan (I know he’s the first Taiwanese-American) to play in the NBA.

      • Kenny9

        Yes mate, he is TWese maybe, however almost all of people from mainland China are cheering for him

      • Whether Lin is Chinese-American or Taiwanese American has caused edit wars on Wikipedia. It’s also caused me to rethink my identity — just like an ethnic Chinese person from Vietnam needs to decide whether she is Chinese or Vietnamese American. I wax a little more on this topic at

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Thanks, Whiffer.

  • JC

    This is so right it is incredible. It is also ironice that a non Asian has been right on the dot about the obvious and is willing to speak out about this. Asian Am women often live American lives unencumbered by racism, they marry out ( I am not against this) and women generally even in competition don’t push the race button.

    But among men, it is pushed and put out there, whether explicity or implicitly. Like Lin being complimented over and over and over again for being an ‘intelligent player’ watch the Knicks-Houston game. When he plays just 5 min or 9 min, and this is this is the first time that you (the commentator) have seen him, how can the commentator be so sure that he is more intelligent than the other point guards? Because he is Asian and went to Harvard. And if he was so intelligent why was he (prev.) the 3rd string point guard.

    That is non compliment, bc Golden State and Houston saw these qualities but it had a no-added value for a basketball player in today’s NBA.

    Lin still has a quirky looking shot, but it is dead eye now. He really worked on his game. The release is a bit slow too. The funny thing is is this, the only ability physically that East Asians and Asian Am such as Lin have that might be as good as or superior to the best, is lateral quickness. I can’t explain it, but we have it. I know from my experiences on the court as well.

    But funny thing is, is that lost among all the NBA data and basketball science, they don’t really use a drill or at least emphasize a drill that measures lateral quickness, shifting from one direction to the next. If you look at Lin and all his moves, he has lateral quickness in spades. Dribble is still a bit high, favors right hand too much still, goes left hand but takes you ( the go by move)with the right ( usually).

    These qualities are a bit predictable (Mark Jacksonm would have feasted on this, I ran against him once, he had all my moves known, memorized by the, nevermind). He makes up for it with lateral quickness. Some people call it a quick first step, but that is a misnomer because Larry Bird had a quick first step after he held the ball for forever and a day, while jab step, feint, jab step ( over and over). Lin’s is just pure lateral quickness. Asian guards including Phillipines have this too.

    With the advent of soft D in the NBA ( no more forearm or hand check like M. Jordan, Doc Rivers, Derek Harper), Lin should thrive in the NBA. His dribbling is still a bit too predictable but I think that his shot, no matter how it looks, it is deadeye and money now.

    So as Asians I don’t think we always have to play the physically inferior role. Simply, what we have, they in their bigger is better wisdom, they do not adequately measure this quality, lateral quickness.

    I think also with the lateral quickness, more Asian Am’s should get a chance to play D-1 basketball.

    Lastly, for some Asian Am men and Chinese Am’s especially, the thing is not to look at Jeremy and go out and buy all his jersey’s and equipment. The thing to do is be your own Jeremy Lin. It was the same for all of us, we play hoop to have some status, otherwise, no one talks to you outside of math class. But in the tryouts, they are people that will push you down and put you down because of your Asian ethnicity. Be your own Jeremy Lin, fight through it and or fight back, get on that team and get treated how you want to be. Don’t buy in or claim someone’s else success. Get your own piece of the pie. You do that by getting off the materialist bent first.

    A good example of this was the crazy crazy Asian nationalism of a certain group for a certain country at the 2008 Olympics. Members of this group ( in the US) would literally go nuts about C—a winning a gold, then C—a being the best, the nationalism etc over the C—- nese athletes. Meanwhile, some of them never played a sport in their lives, they don’t like sports and their body is soft as a Chinese dumpling. Then they rapidly wear some jersey with the country’s logo or wave that flag.

    That is what I mean about the materialist bent. Sport teaches you to compete in a very aggressive Western manner, there are lessons to be learned from it which are and can be applied in everyday life. Get your own!

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I’ve noticed the lateral quickness as well among my AA friends who play basketball. My brother-in-law definitely has it! Thanks for the info.

    • Jason M.

      “When he plays just 5 min or 9 min, and this is this is the first time that you (the commentator) have seen him, how can the commentator be so sure that he is more intelligent than the other point guards? Because he is Asian and went to Harvard. And if he was so intelligent why was he (prev.) the 3rd string point guard.”

      So he’s racist for complimenting his intelligence but its ok for you to generalize an entire geographical area of Asians’ physical traits by saying,

      “The funny thing is is this, the only ability physically that East Asians and Asian Am such as Lin have that might be as good as or superior to the best, is lateral quickness. I can’t explain it, but we have it. I know from my experiences on the court as well.”

      Do you not see the hypocrisy? Harvard is considered the gold standard of higher education in this country so thinking a man who played college ball there has some smarts isn’t that far fetched of an idea. Remember the IVY league doesn’t have athletic scholarships and their academic standards to stay on the team are pretty high so it’s not like Lin was there only to play basketball, unlike many other high profile college players. While its not fair to other players to consider him smarter then them because he went to Harvard, its fair to consider him smart if he went to Harvard. Just like its not fair assume lateral quickness is the only good physical attribute an Eastern Asian could have, or for that matter, that lateral quickness is even common in Asian athletes. Such a statement is just ignorant as assuming the commentator had never seen Lin play before or knew anything about him. Doing your homework on your team’s players, as in watching them play, doing interviews, and talking to their coaches, is nothing new to a professional like Mike Breen. Maybe it was a play he saw while Lin was on Golden State or maybe a coach said something about his high basketball IQ. Who knows what the real reason is, but to just assume that its only racism that Breen is basing his opinions on, says more about you then it does about a guy who not only calls games for the largest and most diverse TV market in the country, but is also asked to be the lead anchor for the NBA Finals and Olympic basketball.

      • JC

        But if you knew the Ivy league like Dalrymple, they get all their athletes “academic” scholarships, when most of them just meet the bare minimum to get in.

        So technically, it is not an athletic scholarship, but if they had not been athletes, many of these players at the Ivy leagues schools wouldn’t have gotten accepted much less receive an “academic” scholarship.

        I had a cousin who received offers to play football at the Ivies, I base what I am writing on his offers and recruitment experience.

        But the main point is this, you can’t know that he is intelligent, and it is a NON factor in the NBA because you wouldn’t be playing the point unless you were intelligent.

        What I meant is they should be saying Hey Lin has one of the quickest first steps in the whole NBA. That is a compliment that would have helped him stick with the Rockets or GSW. You can’t watch just one or two plays and then call him intelligent and then repeat it over and over as they did in the Knicks Rockets game.

        • George C.

          Ah, glad to know Jeremy didn’t have to foot the bill for putting Harvard’s name all over ESPN.

          If you look at JLin’s time at GSW, he didn’t really have a chance to show his wares because he had Curry and Ellis in front of him, both of whom played 36+ minutes a game. I think it was a GM travesty to let him go for the prospect of signing Dandre Jordan, but GSW, Houston, and every other team that needs a solid PG backup will be kicking themselves for not looking past his AA appearance.

          I don’t think it’s an insult to call him a smart player. He *is* a smart player, considering the NBA is such an over-athletic, under-ballsmarts league.

          Nash would’ve been an average guard in the 80’s, but b/c the PG play deteriorated greatly and with the rules change, his ability to change direction, to move the ball, find the open man on drives, and hit the mid-range jumper made him an MVP. Possibly not even an All-Star in the 80’s, but an MVP in the 2000’s. JLin is definitely of the same mold and is ripe for the NBA.

          • JC

            I love Nash, no way that he would have been average in the 1980’s. Did you see how Nash is completely ambidextrous with right and left hand. Did you see the variations of all his moves. With Jeremy, when you see the shoulder dip, POP– he is going to try to take you then right there and then, one step and under, one step and to side–

            With Nash, you don’t ever know when that is coming. Once the game film comes back on Lin and teams, start double teaming him 5 feet out from the top of key, or helpside D by the guard once he reaches 5 feet of the top of the key, he is going to have to rely on the jumper.

            Let’s see what happens then, but I don’t think it is going to be such a cakewalk for him anymore once they start the double teams and helpside D. Nash is the king.

    • isidro

      jc, wats ur problem w/ ppl celebrating by waving flags n banners of their country or former country ? we Pilipinos unabashedly do it. And It’s our typical, usual means of expressing nationalism, whether inside the stadium or in public places eg. outside the gym of MAny Pacquiao in Cali.

  • Fantastic blog post!

  • Billy Rhodes

    I watched the whole clip and with all due respect, I did not see the sleights you did. I covered the NBA as a sportswriter for more than 10 years and I absolutely love the game. What I saw in those clips was a young player, who hasn’t got many minutes, coming up with the best game of a very young NBA career. It is difficult for young players to make an impact in the NBA in their first few years. Jeremy was obviously very tired at certain points of the game — watch him when he goes to shoot free throws at one point; watch him at the end of the game. He played his rear end off and his teammates were very excited for him because they had never seen him do this in an actual NBA game. At the end, one of the players congratulating him the most was Mike Bibby, a veteran point guard whom Lin is taking minutes from. What I saw was a team genuinely excited for a young teammate who hasn’t had many opportunities to date. The fact the Knicks desperately need a point guard — and that this young bench player with little experience was playing great — really excited the fans, too. He is an oddity in the league. Very few players of Asian descent have had much of an impact in the NBA, just as very few players of Australian or Middle Eastern descent have. But if the player is good enough, the NBA will find him and he will play. Hopefully, Jeremy inspires young Asian and Asian-American youth to work hard to play the game they love.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I agree with most of this. I just found their astonishment (justified to an extent) a bit over the top, and consistent with the kind of under-estimation Jeremy has often faced. I can’t know for certain that they were affected by the stereotypes, just like you can’t know for certain they were not. I generally give the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps I should have here. But there seemed to be a bit of a “look at the kid playing with the big boys” feel in a way that a second-season African-American guard of his size and skill may not have encountered.

      • Pomeroy

        I think the question you should ask yourself is “If this were a white kid from Harvard, who had never played more than 5-6 minutes in an NBA game and dropped 25 / 7 / 5 against one of the best PGs in the league, would the commentators be as surprised?”. I believe the answer is ‘yes’.

      • Kevin


        From your viewpoint, I can easily -understand- why you would write a column like this, and why you would feel the way that you do. But being Korean-American who has played basketball at the collegiate level, I have to harshly criticize the point you seem to be driving home that “this kid” (Lin) has in some way proven himself worthy of NOT being underestimated. You claim yourself to be a sports fan, but exhibit little knowledge of sports as entertainment, as well as a business. A simple perusing of ESPN,, or any other sportscentric website typically headlines good and great performances alike. My point here being, Lin could be another Black PG, but with the situation the NY Knicks have been in all year taken into consideration, the reaction would all be the same. A bench-warmer comes in, plays hard, wins the game for the team, huge kudos. And sadly, the situation occurs frequently with other players around the league in years past. I want to say that, yes, because Lin happens to be Asian American maybe the spotlight has shown brighter, but by no means was there bigotry involved (on any level). And reading a lot of the posts, seemingly from Asian American peers, and what they have to say is quite discomforting. Why feel so attached to Jeremy Lin and his recent exposure, on the simple basis that he looks like you? At the end of the day, its when people (fans alike) who begin to separate ethnic groups within sports to justify their relative support creates the very segregation you seem to despise. Be happy that Lin actually got the OPPORTUNITY to play. (And also bear in mind that there are many players black or white who have yet to set foot on the court this season).

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          It’s not a matter of “looks like you,” Kevin. It’s much more than that.

          And let’s not get into silly who-knows-more-about-sports nonsense. Save that for Deadspin or something. I’ve been in the sports world most of my life. The point was not that Jeremy got kudos, and therefore the expectations must have been low. It had to do with the specific tenor of the comments. It seemed fairly clear to me. But I don’t know for certain and if I ever meet Breen I won’t think any the worse of him.

          • Joe

            I’m an AA basketball player, and I was the only non-Black kid on my HS basketball team.

            I don’t think it’s a matter of “who knows more about sports.” I think Kevin means, and I agree with him, that your piece lacks a certain insight into the world of competitive basketball necessary to understand this Jeremy Lin phenomenon.

            I think you really failed to appreciate the magnitude of Jeremy’s accomplishment. Actually, even Jeremy seems to be surprised by how well he’s playing. Regardless of race, to see a unrecruited, undrafted, Harvard man who was cut by two previous teams do this well is just unheard of at the NBA level. If there is any bigotry or racism here, it’s the fact that coaches repeatedly never gave him any chance – until now.

            I really feel that the commentators were just calling it as they saw it, without any hint of racism or bigotry. In basketball, just as anywhere in life, you have all types of personalities and styles. You have the cocky, arrogant types like Kobe Bryant, and then you have the very gentlemanly, “nice” types like Grant Hill. Jeremy Lin’s personality seems to be more of a “nice,” humble and meek variety. And he just so happens to be Asian. No one is forcing that upon him. I know plenty of Asian ballers who would come off more like Kobe than JLin. Jeremy’s appeal is that he’s not cocky or arrogant. You could almost say he’s kid-like.

            Just look at Lin in the highlights. Grinning, shaking his head, and sticking his tongue out as if to say, “I can’t believe this is happening… this is so much fun.” And yeah, just as Lin is overwhelmed and excited by all this, so are all of us watching him – his fans, teammates, coaches, and yes, even the commentators.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            I appreciate the magnitude of his accomplishment. I know that — regardless of race — his explosion onto the scene would have been surprising. I’m not suggesting it was entirely due to racial stereotypes. I was only suggesting that there was an over-the-top element that seemed consistent with the “low expectations” he has faced throughout his entire basketball career.

            Now, this is all a part of expressing appreciation for Jeremy. Whenever someone is the first person of X kind to succeed on the highest level in a sport, he or she generally has to overcome some stereotypes or misconceptions. I wouldn’t put Jeremy in Jackie Robinson’s class, just given the history of black-white relations in this country and the magnitude of Robinson’s success over time in the major leagues. But I do think he’s blazing a trail, and exploding stereotypes along the way.

          • Kevin

            Okay, you must have not understood what it was that I was trying to convey: Point 1. The term “Asian American” is being used, and you already explained as to why in the beginning of your post. So yes, not every Asian American that’s responding here is from Taiwan, or Taiwanese descent. Therefore, the support stems from the very rudimentary “he looks like I do” mentality. That’s as deep as it needs to go, really. Point 2. The expectations were low not because of race or ethnicity, but because of the lack of exposure and playing time this particular player previously exhibited. I listened (on YouTube) the commentary as Lin was closing out the Nets, and both men did not make remarks that would even suggest they were thinking “Asian guys can’t play this good”. You’ve created this perverse idea that the one Asian guy whose performed well this year was exposed to “soft bigotry of low expectations” and that’s a false sentiment. There was low expectations for him because he’s never played extended periods of any given game. Therefore, how can you possibly fathom that a player would have ability if not given the opportunity?–And when given, performs beyond ANY expectation. This has absolutely nothing to do with race.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Regarding Point 1: There’s a broader sense of solidarity than just Taiwanese-Americans. He is Taiwanese-American, Chinese-American and Asian-American. And there is more to that identity than “looks like I do.”

            Regarding Point 2: I’m impressed that you have absolute knowledge of what was in the hearts and heads of the commentators. That’s amazing!

            I confess I cannot know for certain — and one could make the argument that a person should always give the benefit of the doubt. I often make that argument myself. So, I’m vulnerable to that line of attack. But I’m not vulnerable to the argument that anyone can say with absolute certainty that race had nothing to do with it. My focus, though, was really not on the commentators but on an ongoing experience of “low expectations” for Jeremy that seem to stem from the fact that he doesn’t look like what we expect elite basketball players to look like.

          • William Lee

            Gotta agree with the original thread poster here. I love the article, and as an Asian American male, am aware of the multiple stereotypes.

            I am a bit of an NBA junkie, though, and have heard Mike Breen call a lot of games. In my opinion, I don’t think any of the commentating he did was out of line for what would happen if any unheralded, undrafted journeyman came off the bench and sparked his team to victory. Very similar call in the following Utah game as well. His use of “magical” I think is best connotated to “sensational.”

            For perspective, Lin’s numbers (in a scant two game sample) are nearly all-star level. Since the NBA draft went to two rounds in 1989, only 8 second round picks have made the All-Star team, and only two undrafted players have been named NBA All-Stars (Ben Wallace, Brad Miller). What he’s done so far is really amazing.

            Naturally, I’m rooting for him, but to keep up this kind of production is a bit of a longshot.

            Thanks for the article!

        • Paul

          Tim, You’re conflating 2 distinct issues here: (1) challenges Asian-Americans face in the basketball world; (2) challenges Asian-Americans face in the real world. 99% of us are under 6’1″. Add to that our parents lack of enthusiasm for sports and that leaves a minute % of Asian-American’s actually able to play high level basketball in this country (by high level, I mean Division 1 stud).

          The social issue, the stereotypes Asian-Americans face in the real world are totally separate and should not be viewed through a basketball lens. Like most other non-Aryan races, we are stereotyped. Are we at a disadvantage because of preconceptions? Slightly, yes. Are we more disadvantaged than the black community? I have to say no. We face challenges that can be overcome by one thing alone – making ourselves more visible and familiar to the rest of U.S. society. Instead of congregating in our little Asian cliques, we need to get out there and really interface with the masses. We are different, yes, but people stereotype because they do not KNOW what exactly those differences are, and because they are not regularly exposed to our positive traits. Asian-Americans (I stress “American”) need to put themselves out there and not fall into the Asians-only social trap. Being exclusive/reclusive only enhances everyone’s unfamiliarity with real Asian-Americans, and therefore, allows stereotypes to flourish. We can get the girls, we can crack jokes, we can be eloquent and intellectually stimulating. We’re not just asexual mathematicians. We need to get out and prove this every day, but WE need to take the initiative. Your article conveys a bit of sympathy for Asian people, but we don’t need it. Once more 3rd generation Asian-Americans enter this world, we will be well on our way to breaking down many of the negative stereotypes that you mentioned.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Great comment. I completely agree with most of what you’re saying — except that I don’t see any reason why general stereotypes in American society would not also be experienced by an AA who happens to be very good at basketball. So I don’t see the need for the kind of strict separation you mention.

            Also, I never said you needed my sympathy. I’m just trying to write honestly about a complicated subject.

          • JC


            You are wrong, even if you do that– your get out there and prove it and show them and this that and the other. We are still going to be the asexual fall guy in this society.

            This construct of the Asian American nerd, whatever the heck you want to call it, it is a necessary part of the American Empire, we are the best, we are the biggest and the baddest.

            First I want to say that the “99% of us are 6 1 and under” comment is pure stereotype. I have something like an N size of 13–so I have 3 brothers, myself and 9 cousins, all cousins are full Chinese/Korean–my brothers are all Chinese, one is half caucasian. I think our average height of all 13 guys is 6 1 or a little taller (because one cousin is 6 6, one 6 4, one 6 3 and one 6 2). I am one of the shortest at 5 11 no shoes.

            Getting back to the first point of Asians being the asexual fall guy, go to S. America sometime, the Asians there are the same, most are 1st, 2nd, 3rd, gen immigrants, they save money, work for themselves, good at math, etc. Yet all the women want to date them. Or vice women, all the Latino men want to date women. The outmarriage ratio for Asian Latino’s is also about the same, but there are actually more AM w LF than AF with LM (LM is Latino Male). As opposed to the 5-1 discrepancy in the US due to “Asexual, quiet, money making nerd stereotype” for Asian males.

            Look at Russia, the Elvis Presly of Russian rock is Viktor Tsoi, (Russian Korean) look him up in Wikipedia if you like. You think that the Elvis Presley of America could ever have been an Asian male or Don Ho w soul and Don Ho shaking it and having the girls swoon?

            Some of what it is, is due to the needs of the society, a societal construct. So after American Empire gets bested by African Americans or African Empire, they create us in the media, an asexual wimp, tiny, small winnable war or winnable opponent, nothing to challenge Mr. English, French, German, Scotch, Irish ancestry builder of the American Empire.

            Believe me, in my family, we hear all the time that we had to have had some caucasian blood in us to be so tall. We all got tired of this and it is actually an insult, but it continues even in Los Angeles so, you just let it go.

  • rich

    “To be crude about it: could a guy like me, an Asian-American, hold his own on the court with these mammoth African-American super-athletes? He takes their doubts and insecurities — and schools them on the court.”

    not feeling this blurb. doubts and insecurities? what a generalization and stereotype of Asian-Americans. It’s just good to see one of your own, someone like you make it. You feel good to see him succeed knowing the barriers he had to overcome. That doesn’t change how I feel when I play basketball. Jeremy Lin is not gonna change how I play sports.
    Maybe other people will give me more respect at first, but I believe in pickup basketball, there are many asian-americans who have shown that they can flat out ball. Maybe not at the professional level, but most of us are not supported by our parents to become sports players.
    What I do on the court, as an Asian-American male, has nothing to do with what Jeremy Lin does on the basketball court. What matters is how I play the game. Any doubts or insecurities probably come from my own lack of skill, ability, or practice. To say, people don’t respect me or my game because I’m Asian, is a cop-out. If you can ball, you can ball, and people will eventually see that. In terms of racism, sports is often color-blind. Admittedly, it can be slow-developing, but true skill is usually revealed because what truly matters is winning.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks, Rich.

    • JC


      There might be a difference of opinion based on different realities. In California, Asians might be given more respect because in most of the middle class suburban schools,they are 25% of the school if not more. Asians get court time in local Cali gyms because they have the money to afford to play in THEIR OWN leagues too.

      But if they can ball, which they clearly can, there are stereotypes, huge ones even in California, it shows up in the lack of scholarships that Asian Am players get or do not get from all of the California schools.

      So you can ball, but it simply may not get recognized. If there is a disconnet like that, it might be safe to call it racism. Every year in SF, Oakland, there is at least one ASian am at least 6 1 or 6 2 who is lighting it up with 20 or more points a year. With no D1 scholarship, few of these guys look to play somewhere else like the Ivies. Jeremy Lin stuck with it, even 4-5 years before him there was a Japanese Am. guard, I think at Brown who started as senior and maybe as a junior too.

      BUT IF YOU ARE ASIAN AM. from Pennsylvania Boston, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina– I think that the reality of being a Chinaman gets a whole lot worse. You can hear as I did before h.s. games, ” Look at that team with the Chinese (Chinese no matter if you are Korean or Japanese or whatever) guy on it, team couldn’t be any good.” or you score 12 or 18 points on someone and they shove you to the ground and mutter in their frustration, ” What is this sh..t, this Chinese guy scoring on me?”

      If you are in Cali, YOU ARE PROTECTED PSYCHOLOGICALLY, people aren’t going to say what the American stereotypes are because Asians there have money, they have their own separate leagues, buy up all the courttime at local gyms and yes, they can ball.

      But look at the SF h.s. b ball leagues, Oaktown and EastBay too, every year there is 10-15 Asian guards or forwards completely lighting it up on Black and White kids (as opposed to segregated leagues), do they even get ONE FRIGGING D-1 SCHOLARSHIP.

      I would say Try a majority white county in Pennsylvania or Wyoming or North Carolina or even my Maine. Spend a year there, play a lot hoops, see how many times they call you Chink as they get frustrated when you drive by them. That my friend is racism because our society preaches WITHOUT REGARD TO RACE, COLOR, CREED, RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN, ETC.

      • rich

        thanks for the response, I’m from NY. Grew up in Long Island suburbs, went to university in NYC, so yes, I am in an area of mixed multitudes.

        Yea I think you’re right in a lot of ways. I agree wholeheartedly. I’m not saying that racism doesn’t happen. I joke that the place I feel reverse racism happens is on a basketball court. I always feel I have to prove myself. Luckily, I don’t have to deal with racial barbs, or racism if I play well. Instead just disappointment or respect.

        However, my main point, is that the insecurities and doubts Asian men may feel is still very real. Jeremy Lin doing something great, which I love and support, is not gonna help me overcome my own insecurities and doubts.

        If I love basketball and want to play well, play with good competition, and get the respect that allows me to play with such competition, Jeremy Lin has nothing to do with my own insecurities and doubts. It might have to do with other ppl’s stereotypes and prejudices, but Jeremy Lin is not gonna save my manhood, confidence, or soul. (However you want to put it). And I’m sure, he’d say the same thing. He’d probably point me to Jesus, or to trust in myself and my own abilities and talents. (which may not be in basketball anyway)

        • JC

          Right but I said that too, Asian Am’s to mask the insecurities, go way overboard on the materialism. ” Look I am driving a Mercedes, look I have 10 Mercedes.” Or the woman, ” I would never date an Asian man.” We have so much of this in our community it is sickening.

          I wrote a post here, a long one, it explains where I am coming from. That is why over and over again, Lin says ” I don’t represent anyone, not even Asian Americans.” Now he sort of does, but he does not want that burden.

          If you are a chickensh…t and you meekly go about your life, whether man or woman and you will not stand your ground and fight for the little things, representational things that matter in Western societies, you will walked on in American society. In comparison to Europe, the society here is vulgar, physical and aggressive. Anyways… get some!! (on your own of course in whatever field you choose, just don’t be a chickensh..t and try to do it through Jeremy or feeling better about yourself through Jeremy, then going out and buying his uniform.

          Bc at the end of the day, the New Yorker is going to say, Hey yeah, I saw worldwide NBA broadcasts, Jeremy Lin is good, but you (the Ch…man) you suck.

          Get some!!

          • rich

            I don’t think I agree on your attitude and language, or the understanding of what it means to be a man or woman.

            But you sum it up best with this
            “Hey yeah, I saw worldwide NBA broadcasts, Jeremy Lin is good, but you (the Ch…man) you suck.”

            Lastly, it’s not all about “success,” but about self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence in many ways.

            To use basketball as a way to earn your “self-worth” is foolish in my opinion. Now if that’s your talent, calling, passion, and your profession, then it has much more value. In that case though, to me, it’s more about the diligence, dedication, and hard work that goes into it, and seeing the fulfillment of that pay off. As well as just loving the game and competition, and thoroughly enjoying it.

          • rich

            But also, I missed out, I agree and think you are very right, on the cultural clash that exists with the West and the East. For U.S. and Asia.

            Especially for 2nd generation “Asian-Americans” there is a big identity issue.
            1) we are not American enough to America. (we look foreign)
            2) we are not Asian enough for Asia or the 1st generation.

            my solution, is to be yourself, find yourself, look to God. Try not to worry too much about what other people think.

            But yes, it’s a very real issue, that has no real voice in our culture, society, or scholarship. (or if it exists, it’s not very public)

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Thanks, Rich. Great comment.

      • Zelda

        My husband played varsity basketball in small town Texas. He was a point guard and a starter and there were about four Asian Americans in his school and two of them were his sisters. You’d think if race was a factor anywhere that’s where it would be (and that would also be stereotyping), but it wasn’t. He was good and they wanted to win games. It was pretty much that simple.

        The nice thing I’ve found about sports (and I never paid much attention to them until I met my husband) is that skill trumps bigotry almost every time. In my opinion, he faced more condescension in academia than he did on the court.

        Now I’m not trying to say that he is representative in any way, but he has found a great deal of respect in sports culture. He coaches our daughter’s coed basketball team and the parents and kids of all races pay attention because he knows what he’s talking about. I’m not sure why I’m going on so much about this, I guess I just don’t want anyone to be discouraged or worried about the future of the Asian-American man. There is a good world out there for them.

        • Zelda

          And I’m posting again. I’m so sorry I didn’t finish this thread because now I see it’s about scholarships and being able to make a career out of sports. And I kind of wish I’d kept my mouth shut because I don’t have any information on that at all. My husband had no interest in it as a career.

  • Calvin Chen

    Wow, best thing I’ve read on Jeremy all day. Thank you!

  • Tony

    Dude, pretty great article. Rock on!

    (Warriors messed up big time!)

  • Michael Heller

    It feels like you’re doing the same thing that you’re accusing the announcers of. You go on about how small Jeremy is, but 6’3″ 200lbs is about average for an NBA point guard. Sure, he’s smaller than a lot of players, but most point guards are.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Granted that guards can range anywhere from 6′ to 6’6″ or so (with outliers from Spud to Magic), but the people he was on the court with were a good deal larger than he.

      Having met Jeremy, I can say that he actually cuts a very imposing figure. Tall and very, very board-shouldered. It doesn’t necessarily come across on television when he’s on court with guys so much bigger, but…

      • JC

        Take a look at Jeremy and compare him with Toney Douglas. He is at least 2 inches taller than Toney Douglas. Go to a Knicks game and you will see this.

        Look up measurements for players at the Portsmouth Invitational and see what the real heights are.

        Like I said before John Starks was really 6 3 (listed at 6 5). Ray Allen 6 3 (listed at 6 6). Then there was Sherman Douglas, 5 10 (Portsmouth Invitational Heights, Jerry Krause of Chicago confirmed this) in shoes so 5 8 1/2 without shoes, but when he played for the Knicks, he listed himself as 6 2 when his contract re negotiations were coming up. Jeremy doesn’t do this. He should be a 6 5 guard in NBA height (height or hype?) Tim is right, about being tall or cutting an imposing figure.

  • Rex Cabano

    I caught wind of this article just after the game tonight. I’m a long time Knicks fan, and suffice to say NBA fan. I watched Jeremy Lin during summer league last year and everything he has shown then, he shows now. Quickness, ability to read pass lanes, and basketball IQ. However, this article refers to Asian-American stereotyping of “soft”. In the NBA your play defines this, and no better place than New York to define “soft”. In his first start of his NBA career he got “M-V-P” chants. Now if you don’t follow the Knicks, or NBA for that matter, this is rarely uttered. Especially for a first time starter. I admit, his college career and entrance into the NBA was unnoticed. Mainly because he was playing nobodies and had a bad jump shot (initially). The article mentions the broadcasters as being bigoted (not intentionally) and about him being exhausted and “a miracle”. From the aspect of a casual fan… take what you want from it. However, He played 4 times his normal minutes and was a miracle point guard, in that the Knick’s desperately need someone to play that position in the traditional sense. From a seasoned fan, the announcers are Mike Breen, a native New Yorker and Knicks broadcaster since ’92. The other broadcaster… Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Two time NBA Champion with the Knicks (our only 2 championships ever). If you watch any NBA home broadcast you’ll notice what is called “Homers”. These are broadcasters that call the game biased as home broadcasters. There are a select few that ARE NOT homers. I feel like I should say that the expectation of these guys would be considered such… but they just aren’t. Neither are Knick’s fans. We demand better, but accept whats given, and praise what’s worthwhile. I guarantee, all you that think Lin is being held to a different standard, he is. New York’s standards. His accolades are exactly that, as well as his failures. Race is hardly the issue. Please understand, sports are never measured by your skin, but by your ability and unmeasurable heart. I hope that someday you can watch a game without the idea of race hurting your experience. GO KNICKS!

  • Paul

    As a Korean man, I enjoyed and agreed with most if not all of your points in this article. It was well articulated and factual – a welcome addition in the vast world of media that usually completely disregards and devalues the Asian man. I wish Jeremy Lin much success. He can and will succeed not because of his race but because he is a supremely talented young man. Once again, thanks for writing this article. I hope many people read this.

  • Eric

    Totally don’t agree with this. I was watching the game, am a huge knick fan. I was in shock watching him, just like the announcers. Not because of his background, because he was a no name player that had an incredible game and outplayed one of the top 5 point guards in the league, helping us get the win at a time when we needed it the most. It’s a pretty huge, and lame stretch to put race into this. The reaction by the fans and announcers wouldn’t have been any different at all if he was any other race.

  • Sky dog

    I don’t doubt that being Asian American contributed to the excitement, but let’s not forget that this guy was an undrafted player from an ivy league school with no prior nba success. Combine all of those things and that’s the reaction you get. Also, mike breen is the “best” at condescending announcing.

  • Poukissa

    Well, he’s done it again tonight against Utah. What people should understand is that skin color or ethnicity really don’t make an individual. Hard work,dedication, and discipline are what defined any individual. This kid is guided by this belief, and it was just a matter of time before others realize his impact on a basket ball court.
    Thank you very much for writing this, God bless.

  • Slee

    Really? Being astonished that a played that was just sent down to the d league not too long ago is racist? How about being astonished that he just doubled his previous career high in points? Please stop painting racism where it isn’t. And I’m pretty sure referring to a big part of the world as hirsute beasts is not the most pc thing you could have done. I’m Asian and I’m just as surprised that he had these two big games as everyone else. My other Asian friend just texted me “is lin really doing this?” We’re surprised because he’s been a bench warmer. But we pay him the attention because he’s Asian. Not the other way around.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I wish people would read more carefully.

  • moving story! I am myself an Asian american, and i only heard now of this jeremey lin

  • Eric

    Amazing article. I’ve already shared it on FB.

  • Ted

    Great performance by Lin. I’m a lifelong NBA fan and I didn’t find any of the commentary to be even subtlety bigoted. In my opinion, as a basketball fan, the Ivy League Conf. does not have a rich history of producing modern NBA players. This reads to me like you’re putting a chip on Jeremy Lin’s shoulders that doesn’t exist.

  • Andrew F

    I’m not sure Asian American women necessarily have a positive stereotype. My hunch is that the manipulative dragon lady image isn’t quite dead.

    But thank you for writing this.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      That’s true — although I sense that stereotype more for older AA women.

  • Tom

    Very, very well-written

  • Jeff

    I think that saying the commentators were suprised at the level of his play because of his race is a stretch. It’s because he was relatively unproven. If another player with his experience came in and played at that level but was black or white, they would have had the same reactions.

  • Scott

    Sorry bro, but you’re stretching claims of bigotry on this one. To clarify I am Korean American, and I work as a Multicultural Service College Administrator, so I am very sensitive to racism and bigotry. I am also an avid fan of sports, especially basketball. The announcers in my opinion were not belittling Jeremy’s performance in any way. It was a “magical night” for Jeremy because is was the BEST game of his NBA career. He did look tired, when they commented on it, he was huffing and puffing for air. Fatigue WOULD be a factor since he never played more than 20 minutes in a game this season. The players were happy for him, because he obviously is a great teammate and they were excited for him. Please clarify how Jeremy has “often beat” his opponents when his career average is 3.4 points a game? I am huge fan of Jeremy and am excited that he is playing well. I do agree that he was overlooked on the college level, but with his hard work and dedication he has made it to the NBA. Reality check for you, most players in the IVY league are overlooked in the NBA and not drafted. So I think it’s a moot point that Jeremy was overlooked in that sense.

    With all of this said, I seriously don’t appreciate you being hyper sensitive for the Asian Culture in regards to athletics.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      See my responses to other comments like this. But you’re “reality check” is silly. I spent a lot of time in the Ivy League; I know how it works. But Jeremy had plenty of attention; he was not beneath the radar. There are legitimate questions of how much he had competed against top-level talent, but he actually performed his best when he played against the best teams.

      • Scott

        Please give me a few examples of Ivy Leaguer’s that have been drafted in the NBA??? Or that have made a significant impact in the NBA?

        • JC

          Scott remember Jeremy was NorCal Player of the Year, 6-1, 170 but that translated should be 6 2 or 6 3, NorthernCalifornia Player of the Year, MVP of the California state title game vs Mater Dei, which was broadcast on ESPN 2 or 3, and he gets not one D-1 full ride offer? Not even to WCC schools such as Santa Clara, USF, U of Portland, Portland State. C’mon now there is plenty of racism there.

          Did you ever read the interviews from Jeremy his freshman year? Contact him, he can confirm this. His freshman year at Harvard, he was the 6th man. Yet all the Harvard kids in his dorm and his circle, asked him if he ever played, if he was the last man on the team, if he only played when they were up or down by 20. Get an interview of his with I think the Crimson or AsianWeek, his freshman year at Harvard.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          It’s called Google, my friend. They’re out there. Not many. But it doesn’t really make the point you need it to make. Part of why he went to the Ivy League is because he was overlooked in a way that others of his accomplishments would not have been. And even though he was at Harvard, he got plenty of attention. I was teaching there at the time, so I know of what I speak. It wasn’t as though NBA coaches (and now commentators) had never heard of him.

          • Scott

            JC I’m agreeing with you that he got overlooked from big time programs for College D1. Racism has a play there, I’m not doubting that. My point is that the Ivy Leagues is not a farm system for NBA players, hence there is reason for why he wasn’t drafted. Was there racism on the next level that played into why he wasn’t drafted? Sure. I’m questioning the cry of “foul” when there is more context to the story.

            Tim, I’m not doubting your knowledge of Jeremy and his accomplishments at Harvard, but I did Google players that came from the Ivy leagues, and there a total 41 who came from Ivy league schools and went on to play in the NBA.

            1 Hall of Famer, and most were drafted in the 70’s or before when there were at least 10 rounds.

            Do I agree that Jeremy has and is looked down upon because he is Asian in the basketball world? Yes. Do I think the announcers were using micro-aggression in their remarks? No.

      • Jason M.

        I like Lin and watched him when he was at Harvard, but Scott is right. You’re crazy if you think Mike Breen, one of America’s best broadcasters, is even remotely racist when commentating on Lin’s performance. Watch any ESPN game where a 10th to 12th man has a performance like Lin’s and the exact same phrases and sayings are being used. I’m a Celtics fan and remember the exact same things being said about Leon Powe after game 2 of the 2008 Finals. This was someone who’d been a 1st Team Pac 10 player in college and put up solid numbers on a bad team the year before. Everyone in the NBA can play, it just matters what kind of playing time they get, and if their team runs a system suitable to their talents. Facts are Lin wasn’t even on the permanent roster before these two performances, he had never shot the ball more than 9 times in an NBA game, and never done anything close to this in a similar run and gun offense in Golden State so yeah, Breen and Frazier are allowed to be caught surprised by this.

        As to your point about Ivy Leaguers in the NBA, its easy to overlook them because simply put, they play in the minor leagues of college basketball. While Harvard and Cornell have seen relative success in the past few years, Ivy League ball is not what it once was in the days of Bob Bradley. The never get a bid in March Madness besides their automatic conference winner. To get noticed at a small basketball school, you not only need to put up great numbers, but both dominate and win with flair (See Jimmer and Curry).

        Yes Asians are probably viewed negatively at first glance by NBA execs when compared to a similar black player but their disadvantage is no worse than a white players nowadays. Is this fair? No. Is there anything Lin can do about? No. Larry Bird, one of the all time greats, was often described by former players as “unathletic”, even right after he’d drop 40 on them. Point is, if Larry Legend could abolish those stereotypes, anyone who thinks Lin can have an affect on them is being naive.

        • Jason M.

          “Point is, if Larry Legend COULDN’T abolish those stereotypes, anyone who thinks Lin can have an affect on them is being naive.” Typo, my bad

          After watching the video again, besides the speculation over being tired, I can’t see one comment that someone how demeans him. They praise him with each passing play, and even at the end he tells the sideline reporter that the game ranks at the top of his best games ever. I guess you’re always gonna find racism if you’re looking for it that hard.

          • Jason M.

            I swear this is the last I’m gonna say about this but after watching the Jazz game, the fatigue comments from this game are well deserved. I don’t think its too far fetched to believe in a season with very few practices that if a person who hasn’t been playing any minutes is suddenly forced into starter minutes they’re gonna break down faster than normal.

            For example, last night Lin had seven assists and zero turnovers in the first half. While his scoring didn’t suffer in the second half his assists and turnovers did. He had EIGHT turnovers and only one assist in the second half. Turnovers are a sign of mental and physical fatigue. Even a guy as young as Lin has to feel like he went from the normal light morning jog to running a marathon in the past two games. While I understand the issue you’re getting at, and it’s a HUGE HUGE issue that goes miles beyond sports, I think you’re reaching a lil to far for an example using Breen and Frazier

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Sigh. Did I not say it was not racist? Please, people.

  • Bo

    Thanks Tim for your willingness to engage this issue. I can’t remember the last time a non-AA person spoke up this directly on behalf of AAs whether Christian or not. And know that this post is reaching non-religious folks – a non-Christian AA friend of mine shared it on fb.

    • dude.. this is NOT an issue at all.. anybody who plays basketball knows this.. its the only sport i know where any position can affect the game the same way pts, rebounds, assists, steals, etc. unlike (ie. football, baseball, soccer, etc). that is why i love it.. you can look like “woody harrelson”, and go to any basketball court in the world and find success.. fact is with basketball especially.. if you have can play.. ppl will know.. it’s the nations first sport for a reason =).. if ppl really start to make this a race issue and line up striking for racial equality in basketball, i’m gonna move to greenland.. lol

      • JC

        Jeff, you are obviously not a minority. Also Woody Harrelson was a movie, it’s not reality. Think about what America was and is, up to 1965 and some years after, it was an apartheid state just like South Africa, everything segregated, not just anti miscegenation laws against Blacks, but “mongoloids” and Asians too.

        Toilets, playgrounds, schools, restaurants. Now you tell us there is no racism? We make a CLEAN BREAK after we pass some laws? Fargettaboutitt!! (it’s my downeast accent, Bar Harbor)

        How about I give you this example, 85% of all movies in urban settings set in the US are set in NYC, SF, Los Angeles or Seattle. Go visit each city for 10 days. Look at all of the Iranian Americans and how they own much of Westwood Dr. near Ucla, see the other cities. See around at least 30, 35% Latino in each city, 10-15% Asian.

        Then watch every single Hollywood movie set in those cities, Dr. Doolittle (Eddie Murphy)and Tom Cruise’s Collateral to name just two.

        Notice how everyone in those movies with speaking lines in the foreground is either a Black or White actor? Does that ever look like even one day in LA, SF or NYC?

        Tell me there isn’t racism even in Hollywood? Fargettaboutit!! There is plenty. Those are two groups are the new “natives” of America or have assigned themselve as “natives.” The other groups including American Indians are the perpetual other or perpetual foreigner, immigrant.

  • Jimmy

    great article. as a Chinese American, who loves hoops and has played hoops for for almost 30 years now (which I still actively play), your article has really hit home. I have spent many battles at parks, gyms and all over and faced much of the racism/bigotry you talk about, it is truly great to see JLIN succeed. Many similar experiences where you get no respect until you drop 20 on an unsuspecting opponent who thinks because you are Asian, you have no game. Seeing the comments from Tyson and Carmelo shows they know this kid can play – he just needed the opportunity and now he is getting it! its awesome!

  • I liked your posting and thought it was well written and thought out.

    I think that generally, the fascination and accolades for Lin have been more because of rarity than anything else. If there were a lot of Asian Americans in the NBA, but they never achieved a breakout performance, and Lin became the first true breakout star, then maybe I would completely agree with everything you wrote.

    Certainly there are the negative stereotypes of the Asian American male, but physically, I would not be surprised if Asian American men are not as tall as your average white or African American athlete. And in sports like basketball, that makes a difference.

    Some of my posts on Lin –

  • Anson Wong

    Great article Tim! However, I disagree with you regarding the commentators.

    I think the commentators had genuine reasons to believe that Jeremy Lin was tired.

    This was his first game with major minutes and naturally would be out of shape compared to other players. Also, he just recently joined the team and haven’t had a chance to practice. Given his lack of playing and practice time, I thought he looked tired down the stretch as well.

    Finally, I think it is fair to call this a magical night for Jeremy Lin and the Knicks. Any time a player from the D-League gets promoted into the rotation and receives major minute, it is impressive. What made it even more magical is the circumstances surrounding the Knicks and their losing streak.

    In general, I agree with your article. However, I did not sense any form of soft bigotry from the commentators and his teammates. I think this is what we love about sports. It brings people together.


    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Yes, of course they had reasons to believe him tired. But he wasn’t panting or slouching any more than most NBA players after that amount of time. And I’m not going to stake a major claim on the word “magical.” It was the whole impression from all of their comments that seemed, to me, unintentionally belittling.

      I didn’t see any “soft bigotry” from the teammates either.

      • Joe

        Jeremy Lin himself said he was “dying out there” in the post-game interviews. Yes, he was definitely tired. Anyone who’s played competitive basketball or watch NBA religiously could tell he was tired. Sorry Dr. Dalrymple, but your assumption that there was any “belittling” by the commentators in regards to the “exhausted” comments is simply not true.

  • Jono

    Great stuff Tim!

  • Nicole Black

    Brilliant article.

  • samuel hwang

    I agree — thanks for writing this.

    The soft bigotry you speak of probably does play at least some role in their commentary, but we can give the commentators some credit. Frankly, Jeremy did noticeably tire as the game went on, and is probably not quite in game-shape yet (note D’Antoni’s comments after the Jazz game). Also, the commentators have little-to-no idea of Jeremy’s true talent level. They see a career bench-warmer and D-Leaguer who is suddenly putting up All-Star numbers. It would be remiss of them to crown Jeremy with All-Star talent based on this small sample size. Adjectives like “magical” have been used to describe these sort of performances before, even for black players such as Sundiata Gaines ( I’m proud of Jeremy, and am rooting for him with all enthusiasm, but there have been flash-in-the-pan D-Leaguers before (e.g. Flip Murray) whose magical runs never found consistency.

    I would be of the opinion that for the commentators, Jeremy’s journeyman history had more to do with their surprise than his race. I think that this history is something to consider as Jeremy continues to start for the Knicks, as many other commentators will use words like “magical” to describe Jeremy’s run. Granted, some may use it because of Jeremy’s race, but I do think that we should be slow to discount Jeremy’s background’s effects on their commentary.

    I would agree with you, however, on racism & soft bigotry’s effects on Jeremy’s path to the NBA. Growing up in the Bay Area around the time Jeremy was leading Palo Alto High to the D-II State Champs, I remember being shocked at the lack of local response (Stanford, Cal, UCLA) to Jeremy’s rise. But as you said — they all regret it now, just as Golden State and Houston should.

    Hopefully Jeremy won’t lose his fearlessness, so that the commentary and the rest of the league will eventually lose their surprise.

  • good article

    Being an asian-american male, I definitely agree with most of what you are saying. However, I do believe the commentators of the game were astounded by Jeremy’s performance not because he is an Asian-American, but because he was, at the time, a third-string point guard who didn’t regularly see many minutes or regularly score many points (in fact scoring only 30-something points in the entire season up until that game). A game where a third-string, rarely used point guard is all of a sudden outscoring superstars like Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire and carrying the team to victory would be considered “magical” for the point guard no matter what race he is.

  • Robbie

    awesome article!

  • Daniel

    Nice article, but I disagree with the third paragraph. Having watched the NBA for a long time, I’m positive the commentators would have used the exact same wording for any undrafted player getting his first extended minutes and wildly exceeding expectations.

    The rest of the article is spot-on though =)

    • JC

      Yeah but in the Knicks Houston game would they have kept repeating that he was an ‘intelligent player’over and over again as he made his shots or drove by someone or dished off an assist?

      Intelligent is a player in the NBA is a non issue, it should be assumed all are pretty smart at b ball, this is their profession. Hearing ‘intelligent’ to describe your game too much, will get you cut or sent to the D league over and over again.

      • JC

        Again, he is using “athleticism” in not intelligence to go by the people over and over and over again, whether in the Jazz, Nets or Rockets game, he goes by people to get his assists and points. Pick and roll is different of course, that part is intelligence to some degree, but anyone can run the pick and roll.

        If you want to talk about intelligence though Mark Jackson, Derek Harper, Doc Rivers, Magic Johnson were extremely intelligent in the way, that they ran their teams and memorized what plays the other team was playing. Jackson was really good at this, slow but had a phenomenal memory for plays and figuring out what plays the other team was running. That is why, probably the slowest player in the NBA for 12 years, Mark Jackson could get all of those steals. He would also look you in the eye and swipe it from you, because he knew your dribble rhythm, e.g. the player dribbles 1-2-3, then he switches hands, or 1-2-3 move rt. leg forward, that is truly HIGH B BALL IQ.

        If you watch Lin, he has to expend much more energy because he doen’t have the NBA experience and hasn’t figured all of this out yet.

        So to say he is “INTELLIGENT” three to FIVE TIMES IN 8 MINUTES, that is stereotyping even if it is postive.

  • Zelda

    I understand what you are trying to say. I’m married to an Asian man and I am more than aware of the stereotypes. But it’s really hard for me to see even soft bigotry in this commentary. There are several other factors that are contributing to the surprise of the commentators, not the least of which is the fact that this was one of his best games ever and an extraordinary game for any NBA player to have. And they don’t sound pseudo complimentary to me either. They sound genuinely pleased to be watching someone – who is maybe a perceived underdog – have such a great game. I understand what you are saying, but I just don’t see an example of it in this commentary.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Oh, I think they were genuinely pleased. And of course they’re commenting on the fact that this is his best game yet, etc. I found the tone of the comments consistently belittling, though. It’s not surprising when a bit player has a great game. Everyone has great games now and then. Their comments, in my ears, sounded like “Can you believe this little kid is playing so well with the grownups?” But I acknowledge it’s a matter of interpretation.

      • Zelda

        It was just hard for me to see it as condescending because to them he really is a kid just by virtue of his age and level of experience. But perhaps I’m completely desensitized. I once had a coworker point at a picture I had of my husband and loudly announce that he was CaucASIAN! I said, “I think you mean Asian.” She said, “That’s what I said!!! But aren’t they kind of, you know, small?” And I said, “Open your mouth and he’ll show you” which was completely unfair because he is a perfect gentleman and not given to demented, misogynistic displays of virility. I get him into lots of trouble.

  • This blog post really touched me as an Asian American male and made me want to cry.

    In all seriousness, though, great post and very insightful. There are low expectations for AA men in certain situations, and sometimes it works to our advantage, because you can come in to the game or competition as a dark horse.

    But many times it limits our opportunities. You can’t win the race as a dark horse if the gatekeepers don’t allow you in the race in the first place.

  • Ben

    Tim, Nice article but I think you’re way off base. The statements that he must be tired stem from the fact that he’s never experienced the rigors of a full NBA game. When Knicks rookie Shumpert started playing extended minutes he had to be repeatedly taken out of the game because his legs kept seizing up. Lin himself said after the game that his legs were numb. And I think it’s fair to call it a magical night when the 4th string point guard has a career night. New Yorkers are embracing Lin because he’s talented, hardworking, and has a lot of heart.
    The only hint of racism that I see is the groups of Asians at MSG holding signs for Lin like he’s the 2nd coming. Why is this?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Again, I said it’s not racism, and not even outright bigotry. But I do think they’re influenced by the stereotype — just as coaches at the NCAA and NBA level have been. Who knows for sure? It’s just my interpretation.

    • rich

      “The only hint of racism that I see is the groups of Asians at MSG holding signs for Lin like he’s the 2nd coming. Why is this?”

      I didn’t understand this comment. Please explain why this is a “hint of racism” to you.

  • Tom Morris

    Enjoyed the article, and you make a very interesting point.

    The only thing I disagree with is the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ in relation to the announcers…. I’m sorry but the commentators for that game were not surprised by Lin’s performance because of some ingrained belief of Asian athlete inferiority, but because he was a no-name player.
    When Norris Cole, a ‘typical’ African-American player suddenly exploded against the Celtics there was just the same surprise and shocked comments, because he too was a guy nobody had ever heard of, outplaying well known teammates and opposition.
    You have somewhat twisted the comments about him being tired, which were not only not ‘constant’, but also in reference to the fact he played about 40 minutes(a number high for Nba stars let alone bench players with little nba game experience). Just to be an NBA guard you are expected to be at near peak physical fitness, they were not surprised that, as an Asian, he could manage to play a basketball game.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      You may be right. Neither of us can really know what was in the heart of the commentators. I cannot know for certain that they were influenced by the stereotype, and you cannot know for certain that they were not. Arguably it’s better to give the benefit of the doubt. I just found their comments consistently belittling — and consistent too with the ways in which Jeremy has been underestimated all along.

  • Will

    As an Asian American male who is active in the Asian American scene and has devoted a lot of time to studying these types of issues, I hate to say this – but I have to cautiously disagree with your assessment. I watched the video and I shared the excitement of the commentators. It did feel like a miracle, not because he was Asian-American, but because he was a third-stringer who came out of seemingly nowhere, with little prior NBA playing time, to put in a terrific game-saving performance. Sometimes, us Asian-Americans should just know when to be happy about legitimate praise. I’m sure Lin’s going to continue facing overt racism – but this “soft bigotry” insinuation of the commentators just doesn’t hold up, and amounts to really not much more than your own racist speculations about their beliefs as white men.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Will.

  • Jimathai

    I enjoyed reading this article.

  • Jonathan

    Enough about race….

    Why does he thank God during his interview after every game?

    I didn’t see Jordan playing…i thought he was retired.

  • Gene W.

    As an AA male, I know myself and the rest of my brothers and sisters, we are enjoying the ride. Is there some type of racism or stereotype in the NBA/society? Sure! But we have to make the most out of our opportunities and Jeremy Lin is doing that right now. We all hope he makes it through the season and is the starting point guard for the Knicks but he has already made an impact in the NBA as well as society. Be proud and cheer him loud! Loved the article and glad you see things through our eyes. Peace!

  • Julie

    “Although some Asian-American women will complain about stereotypes of submissiveness or nerdiness or asexuality, so many Asian-American women have become doctors, lawyers, reporters and businesswomen that they’re generally seen as intelligent, professional, attractive, friendly, and relatively innocent or untainted by bad attitudes and bad influences. Even positive stereotypes can be confining, of course, but they’re better than negative ones.”

    ^ Seriously? Yeah, you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Yes, seriously. Thanks.

      • Clara

        You are not Asian-American, nor a woman. How can you say this? (Not confrontational, just an honest question.)

        Also, whether you think they are “positive” or “negative”, stereotypes are not good.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          I did say that even “positive” stereotypes can be confining.

          I think I need to write something about this. This is not to say that AA women do not experience racism and bigotry. Having been very close to many AA women, I know that they have — especially if they come from certain parts of the country. But I do think that AA men deal with more negative stereotypes than women do. Just my observation from the outside.

          • JC


            You didn’t quite answer her. I read about this column already on some Asian Am posts, listservs, some people, female are complaining that the author is doing a bit too much of “mansplaining.” He might be.

            I am not his doppelganger in any way shape or form. I notice he did not answer this question directly, but what I think he has to offer is something very rich.

            He is very perceptive and has lived, breathed in between cultures, probably several because that is his thing. If you look at him, I don’t know him at all, but my perception is that he likes the underdog and minorities, minority cultures and minority alternative lives types stories and he has spent a lifetime asking people question and or watching and listening intently. For that reason, I think he was able to write an excellent article about the Asian male experience in the US. Re the Asian women, give him a chance but he has been right on some things and in regards to the Asian women, maybe that is the next piece.

            So if we go back to the Asian female or ASian male experience, just because someone was of that ethnicity, I don’t think that they would give any richer of a story or offer better insights.

            Think about what we have in the Asian Am community, we have some people with the least sense of ethnic solidarity, because in many of the Asian cultures, you try to be and fit in like the majority, that is what you are taught and a sort of life goal (Please don’t criticize me for saying that, no one is going to admit this c’mon now).

            Some of the most racist people against Asians are Asians such as one of the Charlie’s Angels and some other’s who have made it big. They attribute their succcess to meritocracy and the failures of other Asians to reach their luminous heights as due to being a lousy, unworthy Ch man, gook, VC or whatever the slur is. I could name off a thousand of these people who are Asian, represent the community and yet in real life, they hate the skin they are in.

            Well I digressed, the point is not to have to be ASian male or female to be able write authentically about what this author wrote. The point is that one must ask questions and have that empathy for other human beings and human suffering. Then you have to have had the experiences of working between two worlds, two cultures or more.

  • Mike Frenkel

    Sorry. I listened carefully and heard no trace of racism or bigotry or stereotyping in the announcers’ commentary. Everyone was pleasantly surprised that the unhearalded, little used, recently acquired point guard had taken over the game and electrified the crowd. In a league dominated by
    African American first round draft choices from Division I college programs, it is surprising, to say the least, that an Asian American free agent from an Ivy League school would make it to the NBA. These are variables that made what we were watching statistically significant and joyful to watch. Last year, announcers were similarly surprised when Landry Fields, an unhearalded draft choice from Stanford, earned his way to the starting lineup. It’s akin to a frumpy, middle aged woman excelling at a pop idol singing competition. Why turn a beautiful story into something ugly?

  • Kay

    Not sure I see the bigotry in the commentator’s commentary. I think their shock stems from the fact that somebody who wasn’t drafted and didn’t have a team a couple of months ago is having such a profound impact on the game.

    Football commentators speak the same way of Tim Tebow.

  • Jim

    I see every point you made as being true but there’s a bit more complexity here. Jeremy is a gamer whose true talent comes out in game situations, not practice where players are evaluated in determining their bench status.
    This has always been difficult to scout, coaches and staff are increasingly better at identifying intangibles, but really it’s just about the player rising or falling to the occasion on the court.
    That he gets his self-confidence from faith is a whole other kettle of fish.

  • Chris NYC

    The “soft bigotry of low expectations” which Shelby Steele has written about refers to such things as recipients of affirmative action. It’s inappropriate here. Also, if you said before that a Chinese-American from Harvard who’s a PG would be the best player on the court and dominate 2 consecutive NBA games, I’d say you were smoking crack. Stereotypes are useful as pattern recognition shorthands. Let’s move on.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Generalizations are helpful as pattern recognition shorthands. Stereotypes are lazy generalizations, often laced with ignorance.

      I know the people who came up with the term. The “soft bigotry of low expectations” is a general enough concept to suffice in different venues.

      • Chris NYC

        Tim — that’s what “stereotype” means: generalize/ation.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          No, actually, it’s not. A stereotype is a particular kind of generalization — one that is simplistic and inaccurate.

  • Greg W

    Found this on the web. Seems to be the first article written about Jeremy Lin

  • MIke

    As an Asian American, it isn’t always about whether you can ball. If you can ball, it will show eventually, but you need to get on the court first. JLin has shown since college that he could run the picknroll, why did it take D’antoni to play him esp. with no real great alternatives?

    This soft bigotry is pretty prevalent, for some reason, it is acceptable to “joke” about asians as evident in a lot of the forums. That is why I am excited to root for him, because has proven it to the world that asians can hoop at highest level.

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.

  • paul


    I enjoyed this post. Someone needs to address the stereotypes plaguing Asian American men, especially from a Christian perspective. I think you were correct in pointing out that sports is a way for Asian American men to challenge degrading stereotypes and thus gain some social status and empowerment. And I like how you integrated Lin’s spirituality at the end to help combat the hyper-masculine and aggressive (even violent) image of sports players.

    However, I have two issues your post.

    First, I felt as if your section on “where did these stereotypes come from?” was a bit off. You seem to imply that Asians themselves created these stereotypes, as if it is our “culture’s” fault. Sure, that may be part of it, but I think you overlooked the history of American racial politics and how the image of Asians are, shall we say, crafted in certain ways to serve political purposes.

    My second problem follows this “intentionally” crafted image of Asians. I think your post somewhat pits Asians against other groups in sports, especially African Americans. I understand that you’re trying to give Asian American youth (esp. boys and young men) hope in role models such as Lin. But the way you went about it could imply Asian American youth to get resentful at “naturally athletic” Blacks, for Asians need to try extremely hard while Blacks are just “born that way.” Blacks are not the opposition for Asian Americans to break into professional sports. In many ways, American sports have been a strong site of cultural resistance for African Americans because they don’t have the same structural opportunities as whites in other areas (such as education, politics, the corporate world, etc.). For Asians such as Lin to begin breaking into this area would again infringe upon what the African American community has fought so long and hard for. I think there needs to be a constructive dialogue between the two communities (esp. Christian communities) to figure out how to give good role models, instead of giving surreptitiously divisive ones.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Agree with your second point, and did not mean to imply otherwise.

      As to your first point: I was trying to point to some of the historical and cultural forces leading to some of these impressions. I don’t view those as anyone’s “fault.” It’s not my wife’s fault, for instance, that she was raised by first-generation immigrants who, given their immigration experience, feel a good deal of anxiety over financial security. And it’s not her fault that immigration from Taiwan brought a lot of folks for graduate study, especially graduate study in the sciences, and this has contributed to the science-geek stereotype. Definitely agree that there are cultural influences on the non-Asian American side, too, such as the convenience of forming a “model minority” image, etc.

      • paul

        Your historical perspective is fair. And again, thank you for writing this post to get the ball rolling for some constructive dialogue about AsAm men.

    • JC


      I just don’t see this. I don’t see that Dalrymple is pitting Asian vs Black.

      My God, if you are Asian Am. you have really internalized how everything is our country is dominated by B and W. I think you have to consider the fact that Asian American’s don’t have any presence in American mainstream sports. If they do it is minor or laughable.

      Don’t you watch any TV or Hollywood films, there are two groups that dominate 97% of all images in the foregound with speaking roles, same with mainstream American magazines and media. That perhaps is your post 65′, new racism. Set yourself free intellectually and stop putting everything in terms of B and W.

  • Patrick

    While I do feel that part of the shock of Jeremy’s success is due to the fact that he is an asian-american, I feel you are overlooking the fact that a good amount of people being shocked by this kid is that it was 20+ games in to the season before we saw this kid explode. I think many people were thinking if he is this good why hadn’t he played before?

  • EC

    Very insightful post (from a Gwailo no less, heh!). I play ice hockey, a sport known even less for Asian participants than basketball. I’m 6’1″ 190 lbs, not exactly NHL material, but I’ve fought the “soft bigotry” of low expectations all my life — simply put, my objective performance is not rewarded in the same manner as others on the various teams I’ve played in. In a team sport, that often translates to a self-reinforcing vicious cycle – teammates don’t trust you as much, and you are not given as much puck (or ball) possession (especially during clutch moments), which translates into less opportunities to shine. Each time I play on a new team, it takes a lot of hard work to overcome these types of low-grade prejudices. It’s frustrating, to say the least. But in the end, I suppose it is a major motivator for me, and it’s difficult to separate my successes from this motivation.
    At any rate, great article, which I will forward around.

  • Eric DeWitt

    Haven’t read the comments, but I guarantee there was nothing said about Lin that wouldn’t be said about a little white guy, black guy, Barea-type guy who wasn’t drafted. To say the commentary had anything to do with race is to make a big assumption, and my impression is you had to look for it…and that the evidence you’re citing either isn’t evidence at all (“he’s really tired”) or the underlying premise is that he’s a little, undrafted guy who’s had no real playing time and is now controlling an NBA game for the first time. I don’t care what color, that sort of thing is surprising.

    That doesn’t mean this soft bigotry doesn’t exist…I just didn’t see it at all as it relates to Asians here in this instance. I don’t remember anybody surprised that Yao Ming was good, but I do recall the shock the first time John Stockton destroyed my favorite team. Or Earl Boykins.

  • Edward

    “And some Asian-American young men, long stereotyped as timid and unathletic, nerdy or effeminate or socially immature…”

    Sounds like the stereotype for Jewish young men in the 50-60’s… hahaha.

    • JC

      Well they could assimilate, we by phenotype find that sometimes the road is blocked. Assimilation and identity, always a two way street. You can drive down it, but the cop or the tollman has got to let you go by.

  • G Money

    Timothy, Thank you so much for a thought provoking article. Your choice to use the term “soft bigotry” does invoke some negative connotation. The word bigotry does imply intolerance. Most people including the the commentators sound like they are rooting for J-Lin. I don’t think bigotry is appropriate word to be used in this context. We all socially engineered to have biases. Understanding our own prejudices is the first step in our own self awareness.

    Some of your responders implied that Jeremy’s race/ethnicity doesn’t matter just as long as he plays well and works hard. That’s only partially true. Just like in life, someone has to give him an opportunity to succeed and fail. In this case D’Antoni had to give opportunity to play. He’s the one who really controls the amount of playing time Jeremy gets. I hope D’Antoni has confidence in him in good times and bad. Jeremy so far has made the best of his opportunities that have been given to him.

    What most people don’t realize is the first non-white NBA player who broke the color barrier was Japanese-American, Wat Misaka.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I knew of Wat Misaka’s story, actually, but it was a long time ago and the sports has changed dramatically.

      Anyway, good comment. Stereotypes create expectations about who will succeed and who will fail at different things. Let’s say that I root on my African-American student, and express over-the-top excitement at how well he can read. I may well have a stereotype that African-Americans are not intelligent, and that stereotype leads me to be astonished at how well my student is performing at intelligence-related tasks. I’m rooting for him. I like him. And I might have been surprised as his success anyway, because he hasn’t had much education or etc. But there may be an element of my surprise that relates to the stereotype.

      When President Bush and Shelby Steele used the term, they were referring to the fact that we seem to accept low performance from Af-Am students, and not to hold them to the same high standard of expectation that we use for white or Asian-Am students. I think there’s something to that. It does employ the word “bigotry,” and that’s an ugly word. Maybe it is the wrong word. But it’s a soft bigotry that really refers not to “racism” so much as the employment of stereotypes.

  • Chris NYC

    Yo JC — I don’t know what all the fuss is about Lin being “intelligent”. Have you ever watched Rubio play? Every play-by-play guy calls him “intelligent”, “high IQ”. Nash has always been regarded as having a high Bball IQ. Doc Rivers has said Rondo’s Bball IQ is off the charts. Nothing wrong with being told you have a high Bball IQ, if you have a high Bball IQ. Problem is that it’s unclear if Lin has even an above-average Bball IQ at the NBA level. He’s probably intelligent since he went to Harvard. What else are they going to say about Lin? That he’s faster or quicker than everyone else? That he has a great jumper? That he’s an incredible dribbler or passer? That he’s an awesome athlete? When you’ve never seen a PG before and he starts killing it with a bunch of and-1s and a few decent passes and he’s Chinese-Am and graduated from Harvard, you go with the only complimentary word in your vocab arsenal: intelligent. The guaranteed other words that people will use to describe Lin?: fierce competitor, driven, fearless, heart. That about sums up the vocab of sportscasters. Oh and “tommy points” in Boston.

    • JC

      But if you read my points, his (Lin’s) dribble is so high and the moves are right hand dominated, 3 dribbles at the most left,–he throws in a herky jerky move with the left hand or right before he does the take move, he does the rocker/herky jerky move with the right hand, then take move or go by move right hand or go by move left hand, immediately switch back to right–these moves are pedestrian–

      Lin is simply a better athlete in terms of lateral movement and quickness THAN MANY OF THE OTHER GUARDS IN THE NBA, that and desire and work ethic are his only exceptional qualities ( while his vision and shot are fine or excellent–sorry I am a fan) but the lateral quickness, ANYBODY SHOULD BE ABLE TO SEE IF THEY WEREN’T STUCK IN DEFINING EVERYTHING IN TERMS OF BLACK AND WHITE AND BLACK AND WHITE– the new, old (post 65) RACISM IN AMERICA.

      They should simply say that because it is obvious, he has lateral quickness in spades and deuces and that is HIS ONE EXCEPTIONAL ATTRIBUTE — and not his 34 or 36 inch vertical. Deron Williams if you have watched him alot, he has never ever had much lateral movement or quickness, that is why they switched to the other guard to guard Lin sometimes.

      So “tommy gun” to Boston too because I grew up in New England and had to fight my way through all the garbage racism just to play a little high school hoops. And I am not exagerrating with hyperbole how much of an Ahole I had to be just to survive. I had to become mean and fight and do things you really don’t want to do to other beings (I don’t know yet if I can put “human” to refer to these people).But they shed their skin and blood for nothing but words, I had everything to fight for, my dignity as a human being. That was and still is New England.

  • JCZ

    I am going to give the analysts (Breen) a break here because he likely were aware of what many others believed Lin could do. But why was expectations set so low for Lin? He was not “expected” to have games like this in high school, he was not “expected” to have games like this in college (hence no “D1”), NBA summer league and the NBA. Why is that? folks, stereotypes and assumptions were heaped on this guy the minute he stepped onto the court. The assumptions are firmly ingrained in many coaches and GMs and they simply chose not to give him a chance until they had no options. pure and simple, so I don’t fault Breen for being shocked because on paper, Lin looked like a door stop, but I do fault all the teams who have chosen not to give him a chance until now when they had ample oppty to observe him in practice and workouts. Warriors for one, didn;t know Lin could run pick-n-rolls, well, that speaks volume about their willingness for blinders. blinders tinted by assumptions (“oh it is just practice, not real)

  • JC

    One other thing that I would like to point out. This article is based on an Asian American perspective that Dalrymple is trying to convey from either having watched some of his sister’s or wife’s experiences and family.

    Now I notice alot of the responses that say “NO WAY, NO RACISM, NONE WHATSOEVER, DALRYMPLE YOU ARE A CROCK”, I notice that alot of these people are non-Asian, non minority ( some who also doubt Dalrymple are Asian Am too, but that is about 25% –maybe even 33% whereas 3 of 4 Asians–my guesstimate, on here self identify and are in favor of the article and its points)

    How the hell would you know? How the hell would you know? Do you see this happening at all when there are matters of race with the Black community. Nobody does this (at least not with to this extent). But anytime there is an Asian issue regarding racism in America, we have white people immediately come out to tell us that there cannot be racism.

    WHY DO WE AS ASIAN AMERICAN PUT UP WITH THIS? WHY DOES IT HAPPEN EACH AND EVERY TIME WHEN SOMEONE ASIAN TALKS ABOUT ASIAN AMERICANS AND RACE IN AMERICA, but you don’t see these same people come out of the woodwork to dominate an article or the discussion when it is a BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN ISSUE.

    Listen I am not in any way, some kind of hate whitey A Am. Matter of fact, I am full Asian but raised by whitey (well one half of my parental figures). Listen, there is a lot of racism in America beyond the Black and White which dominates all racial and resources discussions in America. So if you want to know what one kind of racism might be, it might be when an America of one (prior to 65′) becomes an America of 2, and one hand talks to the other hand and they agree. Those left out wonder, ” Where the hell is my voice in this democracy?” And to the whites who tell us there is no racism, try walking in our shoes just for one week, I don’t know how you would do it, but if you could, then you would see.

  • Basically – everyone is this thread is both right and wrong. Nothing is ever so cut and dry. It’s not completely racist…it’s not completely un-racist either.

    Do I think the surprise was 100% due to racism? NO. A lot (like…75%) of it was totally justified.

    What the announcers SAID was generally fine. Jeremy absolutely looked tired. Their TONE raised a few eyebrows because nobody expects a skinny (looking) Asian kid to be doing those things.

    You can see Walt Frazier is clearly LESS PHASED by Jeremy’s accomplishments than his white co-announcer who is more like “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS KID? WOW CAN’T BELIEVE IT” Walt was more like “Man, this is exciting!”

    I have noticed that SOME white announcers (duh, not all) always struggle to grasp something when their world-view is shocked. Same thing happened to Jeremy in Summer League. The white announcer would literally be having his mind-blown that this Asian kid could do that while the black announcer was simply just excited (also surprised but not paralyzed by his surprise).

    So if Shumpert did the same thing as Jeremy, white announcers have reactions more like Walt’s. It would be surprise but still like a “Oh great, an unexpected breakout game by Shumpert! He was poised to breakout sooner or later!”

    Instead with Jeremy it’s like their brain is starting to meltdown, “The world as I know it is crumbling! The natural hierarchies that exist in my brain are being challenged!”

    And yes I do have a lot of white friends who both agree and disagree with me on this. The ones more conscious of their white-privilege (they know whites have dominated the modern world for a few hundred years) absolutely acknowledge their natural superiority complexes (which are unintentional often, that’s just how the world played out).

    Asians have superiority complexes to FOB Asians (1st gen immigrants) so Asians know exactly what I’m talking about as well.

    And no, is it all whites? Absolutely not. Do some black people hate on Jeremy? Absolutely. But just listen to the white announcers from Jeremy’s old highlight vids. They are absolutely more shocked that an Asian kid can play than excited for his play whereas the black announcers at least seem too excited to care.

  • Evie

    I’m generally un-moved by this article. It’s full of too many racial references. An athlete is an athlete regardless of race or creed. If they’re good, then nothing else matters. Additionally, the author tries to hard to establish his credibility on all things asian inserting irreconcilable bias into the article. Conclusion: Kudos to Jeremy, but this article is a waste of time.

    • IT

      It sure is easy for someone who has never experienced/recognized racism to turn a blind eye to it. It must be nice to be so privileged.

  • A

    I don’t think you (the author) quite understands Jeremy Lin’s accomplishment. It was a magical night, a spectacular performance. It would be for ANY player, from an undrafted player who risked falling to D-League obscurity to a top 10 pick who makes an immediate impact on their team.
    Having watched Lin during his time at Golden State – he simply wasn’t ready. He wasn’t tough enough mentally, made poor decisions and simply didn’t earn the playing time. To see him improve to back to back 25+point games is a phenomenal performance. Believe me, that is what the commentators were referring to. Look at Sundiata Gaines performance, or Gary Neal. Same thing.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Absolutely agreed that his past few games have been a fantastic accomplishment. I don’t know why you think that I’d believe otherwise.

  • JC


    Read my previous post, comment. The name of this article is not “Hey It Those Asians Now Complaining About Racism, Let’s Silence Them and Explain to Them What They Are Really Feeling.”

    We have a funny community, either we get that which I just sarcastically entitled, or we get the Asian Connie Chung or Chua/Tiger Mom type. Women who would never date an Asian man and say some of the most racist things I have ever heard about ASians–men that is, their criticisms would never touch Asian women(come from those two).

    Also if you check out Tiger Mom’s WSJ (Wall Street Journal interview a few years before the Tiger Mom book came out and the secrets of Asian Parenting came out– the daughter said,” Mom is Chinese but we are Jewish (this is no knock on that ethnicity, it’s a knock of the credibility of the book).”

    So the book can be summarised in two words stated in Connie Chung’s preface for the book– Marry Out, Have a Better Career and Write Some Books about a Community that You Never Wanted to Represent( Only from Afar).

  • dan

    oh, and JC, wow.. please stop speaking for me.

  • Kenny9

    Hey man would you mind if I translate your article into Mandarin and post on one Chinese basketball website?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      That would be fine, Kenny. Just please include a link to the original.

      • Kenny9

        Yes sure I will

  • Mari

    I’m a Japanese-American woman, and though I’m nowhere near being a professional athlete, I played soccer and nordic ski raced competitively and I know what you mean about the shocked compliments. Less as an AA than as a woman – I was playing soccer in England with a bunch of guys, and they’d go out of their way to be shocked if I made a tackle (let alone when I beat a guy to score). Meant to be encouraging, I think, but it was like if you weren’t terrible and you were a girl, this was headline news.

  • Gee Lowe

    Tim, thanks for the great article. Even though we don’t know for sure, it is helpful to point out the possibility of racism. With that said, however, we can certainly enjoy the shows that JL has put forth and give the commentators the benefit of the doubt, and ride with their waves of praises graciously.

  • David C

    Great writing dude

  • John Cho

    Maybe instead of the commentators stereotyping Jeremy Lin, Timothy Dalrymple is stereotyping the commentators! :0

    “Stereotypes are stereotypes because they’re intellectually lazy generalizations that only tell a part of the story.” I’m not sure what he’s saying is ‘intellectually lazy generalizations’ but it sure seems like he’s making some very subjective generalizations about both the people he says commits these generalizations and the stereotypes themselves. In fact, almost everything he’s saying are weakly supported, albeit very, VERY sensible, generalizations.

    But wait! Maybe instead of Timothy Dalrymple stereotyping people that stereotype Asian-American men, John Cho is stereotyping the people that are like Timothy Dalyrmple who stereotype others that stereotype!

    This smells like a case of… of…


    (or of the fact that critiquing stereotypes is a really hard thing to do- certainly rightly judging the people that stereotype/over-generalize is an impossibility- so i guess i’m forced to say, really nice article Tim! but it really is haha- as an Asian-American male myself, i must say, posts like these please me :P)

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Heh. Where’s Christopher Nolan when you need him?

  • JC

    Tonight is the night Knicks vs Wizards. Wizards got all the game film on Lin now. Tonight is one of the first real tests.

    Nick Young at 6 7 is going to be the helpside D on LIn, Lin has make a quick pass off, then get it back from Shumpert in order to initiate the Knicks offense. Let’s see what happens.

    Optimally, as a Lin fan, I’d like to see 16-20 points tonight or even 22, but 14-16 points, 8-10 assists might be more realistic.

    Let’s see if Lin can power it over the 2 defenders and split them like Shumpert does. That is Shumpert’s game–split the defenders even if an early double team comes.

  • JC

    How do I add my pic to this when JC comes up? I want to add a picture of mini-me, Austin Powers in a basketball uniform to represent me. Hey, when we are talking and arguing about stereotypes, might as well have some fun with it right?

  • Rich

    6’3″, 200 ibs with mad hops is not underdog. And not undersized for a point guard even in the NBA. I get this feeling at 6’3 he’d tower probably over most crowds of men, not only Asian men.

    I saw him play Uconn a few yrs back where he put up 30pts against some of the best players in college, including a 2 handed your face jam against 2 defenders!! This guy was no underdog that night. Of course UConn my alma mater stilled prevailed vs Harvard. But J Lin is no underdog!

  • Michael

    Lee, interesting thoughts. I am also of Korean descent, born and raised on the east coast, married a blond “All American” woman, and have 3 wonderful children. Btw, I played lacrosse and soccer. I have to say there are some asian stereotypes that are so ingrained and subtle that it’s hard to point them out on put a finger on them. But clearly, JLin’s struggles to make it to where he is can be partly attributed to those stereotypes. Fast, smart, works hard are all code words (unintentional or not) to describe AA athletes and in fact AA in general. While they may seem like complements on the surface they are mainly used as excuses to thwart progression. As I watch my young children move through elementary school, I do see some hope of eliminating some of these stereotypes further. But there is the rise of anti Asian sentiments due to china’s rise as an economic power as well as the obvious growing AA population across this country. Ivy league schools still have an unspoken cap on Asian American student admissions. It’s all very complex and grey. I wish asians americans would organize as a group better to gain political and economic heft, like African Americans and to some extent Indians I the business world. But the different Asian countries/ cultures makes it difficult to create an Asian American monolith. In any case, I enjoyed the blog post and the comments. JLin is a great story and is making me watch the Knicks again.

    • JC

      Michael I just read your post, and now my mood has changed. I am about to become serious. The cap/quota that you talk about for Ivy League schools on Asian Americans is real, anyone should be able to see it because the Asian Am enrollment rates at the major ivies always remains at or slightly below 20% despite the Asian Am population growing exponentially and the percentage of ASian poor below the poverty line always growing as well (but not exponentially). That cap, it is ironic that the same Ivy administrators all decry the informal racism and quota on Jews in the past but now there is a cap on Asian Americans and it is done subtly, sneakily and no Asian American studies profs are talking about it.

      And this is done by mostly people who are democrats and liberals. Contrast this with Affirm action, which is approved by the same people while at the same time, they employ the cap or in other words, an illegal quota worthy of South Africa or Malaysia on Asian Americans, then you understand that our society has quote, unquote “natives” and “foreigners.” I mean Americans of different ethnicities that are assigned to be native or perpetual foreigners, immigrants.

      I assume that you have read the Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung, “Admission Preferences for Minority
      Students, Athletes, and Legacies at
      Elite Universities.” The regression analysis model and data is impeccable. Well you have your damn diversity because if you did not lump together all Asians as Asian American, you would find out that Thai, Indian, Burmese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese (do I get a Blue sticker for mentioning this ), Vietnamese– the importance of all these different cultures, languages and connections to states, government families in those countries is completely erased when we simply lump them all together as ASian Americans.

      Instead that keyword Diversity, refers to American political diversity, two groups mostly engage in this and the spoils, B and W. REad the Espenshade, Chung article.

      All that BS about the world is a global village, “real diversity,” it is all a crock when they never recognize the diversity that is and has always been there under the term Asian American. That is why you have to remember, if there was a strong form of racism before 65′, it is likely that that racism is still around but has simply taken on a new veneer in order to maintain, display a greater consensus or the simulation of consensus within the new “establishment.” New groups are added, others still left out.

      Basketball, where were we? I deserve a Blue parking sticker for “digression.”

  • Tim

    I don’t necessarily think that Lin was overlooked or underestimated because he’s Asian. If he had the same high-school success in a basketball hotbed like NYC, Chicago, or the DC area, then the hype machine would’ve been in full effect and he likely would’ve had more scholarship offers. There are probably thousands of big-fish-small-pond players who don’t get to play at big-name schools like UNC, Duke, or Kentucky. Even some key non-Asian players at these schools don’t get drafted, so I think race is less of an issue in Lin’s improbable success (improbable not because he’s Asian, but because it’s really difficult to have a NBA career that lasts more than a couple of years).

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      He played high school ball in the San Francisco Bay Area, and led his team to the state championships title. He wasn’t exactly beneath the radar. I know Stanford, for instance, was absolutely kicking itself for not pursuing him, and there were various D1 coaches at top programs who said that he would have been their starting guard if they had had the foresight to recruit him.

      Race is not an issue in Jeremy’s improbable success. It does not explain why he’s successful. But it’s a part — maybe a small part, but a part — of the explanation for why he has been consistently underappreciated.

    • JC

      Tim ( with Asian icon face)

      I am not enamored of your logic here in the argument. You move from specific case and data of ASian player Jeremy Lin to GENERAL FACTS about all NBA players careers and GENERAL FACTS about college recruting.

      Tim D, why are you backing off of your support. The argument above is poor and weak.

      Now, let’s say you have a6 2or 63 guard ( that is Lin with shoes on ). This guard, no race, is very fast, has a 36 inch vertical, good lateral quickness as well. He single handedly help a HS from a small deficit, he rallies them ALL ON NATIONAL TV, ESPN 3 SHOWN IN ALL OF CALIFORNIA, AND OTHER WESTERN STATES, HAWAII INCL.

      Now he shows leadership, is vocal, is not small, not super strong, just average. But the knowns about him are great court vision, leadership good grades, 4.2 with 36 inch vertical.

      He single-handledly leads Poly to beat a National Power, Mater Dei and you tell me, let’s say we don’t know who this player is, you tell me that it is normal that he does not receive one Div 1 scholarship.

      Then on top of that, there is the WCC in HIS BACKYARD–which schools, St. Mary’s USF, Santa Clara and 7 others I think. If this player was non race specific, any recruiter in their right mind would tell you that they would hand this guy a b ball scholarship immediately.

      Now Point #3–if you knew anything about high school hoops or recruiting or even played or even looked for a scholarship for yourself, you would know that the last 2-3 men on a team are typically gimme’s, favors for former NBA players or coaches– favors to put their sons or nephews on a team so that it looks good and they can work as coaches afterwards.

      Look at the WCC and their last two men on each team, type in the univ,and athletics, go to Team Roster. Look at this for example at U of Michigan, a player Bartlestein, son of the agent Bartlestein for many of the top NBA players.

      Now he average 15 points a game at Phillips Exeter. Well that is not in any way shape or form a HS B ball powerhouse. I went to school in New England, public hs. We could have beaten Exeter by 20 in my estimation however biased.

      You mean to tell me that if you were a coach, you wouldn’t jettison on of these favors or rich kids to take up a “real prospect” like Lin no matter how bad, HOW BAD AND LAME AND WEAK YOU HAVE seen other players play of his ethnicity.

      There were so many ways that Lin could have gone to Stanford or Ucla it boggles the mind. They could have also been “partials”, partial scholarship as practice players for the 1st year, then you keep or cut them. Completely up to the coach.

      See url below. Tim D, come on now, it’s your original argument, how can you let Tim who has no logical argument and does not know hoop at all, how can you let him dissuade you with the poor argumentation of against a specific case by using general data of a general arguement.

      LAST THING, BOTH TIM’S, I bet you for Div 4, Norcal or the winner of the Class 4, NorCal– the MVP of that game for the last 15 years except for Lin, I would be willing to bet money that every single one of those players received a Div I b ball scholarship, IF THEY CHOSE TO CONTINUE PLAYING B BALL. Some may have quit, some may not have had the grades, some due to incarceration and some played football or baseball instead. But the other MVP’s of that game, I bet for the one’s who wanted to play Div I, basketball, they all got scholarships except Lin.

      Please don’t uncle tom it for the Asian Am community, please. We have a long long long tradition of Asian Uncle Tom’s. SEE THE URL BELOW, AND GO BLUE!

      • JC

        Re the Uncl tomming it, I was speaking to Tim (Asian icon face)not the author.

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        Thanks for your engagement in this conversation, JC. I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts. I’m not backing off my argument that Lin has been overlooked and underestimated because of his ethnicity. But I also won’t say that it’s the *only* reason, and I think we have to be wary of saying that any one slight was definitely because of ethnicity.

        When I say “maybe a small part, but a part,” I’m really just trying to get people like Tim (Asian-icon Tim) to admit that it could be a part of the explanation. I think it’s a large part of the explanation for the pattern of low expectations for Lin over the years. But with the commentators’ comments, for instance (that is, with a particular case), I wouldn’t be comfortable saying that their comments were *mostly* driven by his ethnicity. I think they were *partly* influenced by his ethnicity and stereotypes about what kind of people can succeed in the NBA, but I can’t prove it because I can’t look inside their heads.

        I had a full athletic scholarship and went through the recruitment process, but not in basketball, so I can’t speak to the truth of what you’re saying on that score. But I agree that it’s patently ridiculous that Jeremy did not receive Div 1 scholarship offers, given his record in HS.

        • JC

          By the way, I used WCC as an example of a league, sort of just very average. Now all the teams in the WCC, almost all have an Asian player, a walk on (no scholarship) as the last or next to last man. This is to keep their enrolments of Asian Am’s which are 20-55% in those schools happy.

          Since this is a form of Affirm action, there might as well be 2 spots for Asian Am’s and full scholarships, if it going to be Affirm Action, why not make it similar to the real thing? I am not pro nor against, I staying out of this kind of argument bc it is a hellstorm. But typically Asian American’s have been so bad at sports and the physical culture image of us, reflects this, why not Affirm action for us in sports or a blue sticker for us, like Handicapped Athletically. I say this kiddingly but it is true that Ucla and the WCC schools employ the Asian last man spot as a way to keep the student enrolment happy.

          Last but not least, Jet Chang of BYU Hawaii absolutely tears it up. He is like a 6 4 version of Carmelo Anthony but really quick. He also has no court vision, and often takes it 1 on 3 in basketball, but he is a great talent and last year’s Div 2, Player of the Year.

          He had a full ride to Ucla for basketball but did not have the grades, also he is really from Taiwan as opposed to Lin and the propaganda from the Taiwan Indepdence Group, well I just stepped into a pile of doo now, the hellstorm is about to start.

          Lin only speaks Mandarin so the Tawanese group that uses him ( on their youtube videos, they state Taiwanese is not Chinese and put that bill through Congress for recognition as a non Chinese group). Anyways Lin only speaks English and Mandarin so that Taiwan Independence Group may want to re think it strategy.

          How about use J. Lin as your poster boy but give him a Blue parking sticker that says, ” Tai U (Taiwanese language) Challenged.”

          In case I get some crazy email from someone from Taiwan or China, all of this was written with a wink in my eye. I HAVE NO OPINION WHEN IT COMES TO TAIWAN-CHINA POLITICS. Merely pointing out that using Lin as part of this Taiwan is not China, nor Chinese strategy is quite daft when you know that his family speaks only Mandarin or English at home.

          Is he himself aware of the politics? Finally, Lin can bring the whole As Am community together, using him to divide for political purposes when his politics are simply God and enjoying b ball, well someone needs a Blue Parking Sticker for “Logically Challenged.”

        • JC

          Tim D,

          Thanks for talking about and admitting that the Ivies give out “academic” scholarships to all their athletes.

          Bc as they always tell us, WE don’t give out athletic scholarships. Not a dig at you, just pointing this out about the process.

          Plus if you see their athletics fundraising, you know they garner the most fundraising during Basketball and Football events so in those two sports, the athletes with Major H letters all get the “academic” scholarship no matter what the GPA.

          Some of the people here who post and who self claim Asianess, notice that their credulity level is high and they make up these quotes about the Ivies such as “all athletes are real students, don’t get athletic scholarships,” some of these ASian Americans are “by the book” type of people.

          The school of hard knocks will teach you just as much and the information is far more applicable to life than reading a book or newspaper and memorizing the information.

          Ever notice that Chinese Americans (as one group I am familiar with)and CA’s in the Ivies, they do this to a high degree some of them, if I were to give an estimate, I ‘d say 40%-60%.

          So half are so credulous and or need to read everything in a book/establ. source BEFORE they would believe you, it definitely takes down their TRUE intelligence by a notch, a large notch or so. Because if you have to wait until a body of knowledge is approved by the establishment in order to use it to your advantage, you are going to be behind the curve.

          Hence so many CA’s (not males) are so adamant about marrying out or remain as Tim said Pocketprotector Bookmen–that is the worshipping of established facts such as who has the power and who are the majority in America.

          Meanwhile, if I were to a comparison, Korean American’s have shown a better overall “roundedness e.g. being well rounded” and willing to engage the facts and the facts of life, or unspoken truths. Much fewer Korean American’s in America but they seem better assimilated and to be doing better socially and even professionally than Chinese Americans per 1000, since there are something like 12 times the amount of Chinese vs. Koreans in America. This is another group from which I speak from some experience. There is also much more solidarity among Koreans, than Chinese.

          So if I were to make a joke, some of the Asian Am males especially those on a basketball forum by Tim D. while taking a break from programming, anime, computer gaming–need to employ more the lessons of life.

          Don’t be behind the curve, life is meant to enjoy the curve(s).(no explanation needed).

      • Tim

        Lin’s own high school coach didn’t think Lin was D1 material, let alone NBA material. The Wikipedia page has some interesting quotes and web links; Lin has admitted that he’s not a freak athlete and that he doesn’t perform well in small scrimmages–three on three at most–which had been the only type used in his pre-draft workouts.

        Ethnicity has probably played in a part of of why Lin’s been ‘overlooked’, but internal and external basketball factors have played a bigger role. Yao Ming was a star from the beginning because he had basketball attributes that transcended ethnicity/nationality/race whereas Lin doesn’t/didn’t.

        Lin was in the D League for good reason: he played poorly with Golden State and needed to improve his long-range shooting, perimeter defense, and turnover tendency. He seems to have improved the first two (5.7 turnovers per game in February is bad no matter what) and is now the toast of the league, but it’s not some egregious or heinous mistake that he wasn’t recruited by a top-flight basketball college or was an NBA lottery pick. The guy’s a late bloomer in terms of NBA position skills.

  • Art

    All I do is Lin Lin Lin!!!! What a show it has been in the past week! Jeremy Has done it again. He scored a record high of 38 pts i think against lakers. And Kobe was asked if he knew him. hahaha

  • While many will play the race card, but more likely, it likely has to do with the heavily unionized nature of the NBA. These structures reward longevity and tenure over merit.

    One begins to wonder how many other players are wallowing away on the depth charts in favor of lesser veterans who get the playing time simply because they’ve been in the league longer. The quality of the play suffers, as do the fans.

  • Josh

    I thought you might be interested in a couple of recent racially interesting compliments. First, commentators can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that Lin actually has good size for a point guard at 6’3″ 200lbs, such that a number of the recent articles keep describing him as “slender,” “slim,” or even “wispy.” In fact, during the Lakers game, the announcers actually said that Lin is “deceptive” because he has good size — implying that opposing players who are ACTUALLY ON THE COURT WITH LIN are fooled into thinking he’s shorter than he is (presumably because he’s Asian-American). Finally, there was an article on the Sporting News about how Lin is “slashing stereotypes” that described how he “reads angles and space as if they were math equations.” Apparently he hasn’t slashed that stereotype yet, at least for that one reporter.

    • JC

      Lin is 210 now by the way.

  • JC

    History Squared–

    You forget though that Jeremy was NorCal Player of the year. NorCal is defined as Modesto and upwards, so the Northern half of California, he was the Player of the Year.

    He was the MVP of the game broadcast on ESPN 3 Palo Alto vs Mater Dei ( Mater Dei is a high school basketball powerhouse in the US, just like Power Memorial was but no longer, DeMatha in DC, Christ the King, Rice in NYC).

    This game was broadcast in all of California, most of the Mater Dei starters played Div I basketball on scholarship. Lin was MVP of this game, POY of Northern California including Oakland and SF and not one Div I scholarship? There is 1st, 2nd, 3rd team NorCal. At least 10 guys of the 15 got Div I scholarships.

    Then the MVP of NorCal ( who is LIn) does not receive one? I could understand it if he was 5 8 or 5 6 but 6 1 real height. No way, there were guys 5 10 and 145 or 155 guards, listed height in that area and white who were getting Div I scholarship.

    Then there is the 2nd scholarship route of being offered a partial and spending your first year as a practice player, without suiting up for games. As you may know, if you are on the practice team,you get a partial scholarship, room and free eats at the athlete’s cafeteria. 2-3 players can get this on a Div I team, but you are just a practice player. Lin should have been offered this by Cal or Ucla.

    Last thing, you see all the ASians out there now with Jeremy Lin this and Jeremy Lin that. THIS IS NOT GOING TO CUT IT IF THEY WANT A CHANGE OF IMAGE OR MORE ASIANS IN NBA, NFL.

    You have to have parents who can accept a B and not think that the world is going to come crashing down.

    You have to have parents who are going to support you to play 2-3-4-5 hours, 5 days a week of hoop. Just because there is one Asian American ( I stress As AMERICAN) guard in the NBA doesn’t mean that the next one will happen for another 20 or 30 or 40 years.

    Asians don’t generally like conflict and you need this to overcome your barriers or those of others. When you are going to change other people’s stereotypes, you will run into conflict because they will be resistant to changing their mental schemas. As my (white)mom said when some guy pushed me down in h.s. during a game or something, “Sometimes these people need a good punch in the nose before they are going to respect you.” Since it was my mom, I had to follow her instructions (haha).

    And to produce Asian b ball players, you usually have to have several hundred play Div I before you have one crack the NBA. In this regard, the Asian Am community was very lucky with Jeremy. Not only was Lin good, but he is fairly tall and can jump. Had he been 3 inches taller, he would have had severe problems.

    Why do I say this?, take a look at Jeremy’s younger brother. He is playing Div III basketball right now. That is miles aways from Div I basketball. Look him up, Joseph Lin in Boston, a small college there. Lin is 5 11 or 6 feet, though they list him at 6 1.He is a lights out shooter, a better shooter than Jeremy but doesn’t have the size or strength. As a tweener guard (betw. forward and guard), you have to play both forward and guard, watch Lin he does this at the very least on the defensive side. Jeremy can do that. His brothers could not, although I suspect Joseph may be good enough to play at a lower Ivy school such as Brown, Dartmouth.

    The materialist bent is not going to change things and produce more Jeremy Lin’s or how Asians are generally mocked, muddied and ommitted in this society. You have to let your children play and mix and don’t worry when they come home with only A’s and B’s. You have to start them early–7th grade team, ie. middle school. You have to teach some kind of if I might call it this, Western attitudes towards conflict and aggression and not backing down.

    The Chinese, Korean, esp. Japanese way of always saving face ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT CUT IT, UNLESS you are playing on a majority Asian h.s. team, live in such an area or attend such a h.s. Saving face as e.g. when someone gets confrontational with you, and you just back off and mutter, ” you might have a point Bob” or you back off and you say to yourself that this jerk just wasnt’ worth the fight.

    In the West, you absolutely have to stand your ground and fight for your dignity and or principles. No saving face, you save face, and you are going to be (instead of Crouching tiger, hidden dragon)– Crouching geek, flaccid dragon– no friends, no cheerleaders and no gametime.

    Sometimes, Asian women are no better. The classic example of the Asian woman– crouching ch–k, flaccid morals (ala Wendi D—g)is the one who says–No way Jose, these people are losers. I will only date and marry Whites. Then of course, whenever some Asian Amer Studies Conference or minority Key Club award, the Business Commerce of the city names her as Minority blah blah blah or position opens up, these people are the first to talk about Asian culture and what they bring and what they learned from Mom and Dad.

    This is also part of Saving Face, because you don’t want conflict or changes, but you want a better situation for youself only.

    In summary, Asians socially, media, sports other non economic areas of American life, lag behind. Jeremy Lin is making strides for us as Americans. he is funny, calm, intelligent, strong, quick and tall.

    So many people–ACTUALLY EVERYONE ASIAN AT THIS MOMENT are using him for representational reasons. But anyone with half a brain, will look at him and say YOU ARE JEREMY LIN WORLD-FAMOUS, ON ALL MAJOR INTERNATIONAL MEDIA OUTLETS. On the hand, if I fit the stereotypes of Crouching Dumb-dumb, Flaccid Dragon, I remain the quintessential Ch–man. No guts no glory because Western society requires that you have a bit of finesse, confidence, swagger,humour to be considered American or Western or to have made it.

    Look at Asia, some of the richest most powerful people there, show no inclination whatsoever to 1. talk to other people with some amount of comm. skills or respect 2. a sense of humour 3. a sense of joie de vivre — it’s all about the Benjamin’s over there, total vertical social societies based on capitalism, especially in some countries that aren’t even in theory capitalist.

    Better yet, have you ever met or been in a business deal with some of the elites in C—a who live in the US, there was a man named Deng once in this country as well as the other elites, notice how their children have US passports as business investors. If you don’t believe the previous paragraph, look at these Asian elites living in America and watch how they treat people and watch their total obsession with materialism.

    Just remember Asian Am community, no guts, no glory and Crouching Dumb-Dumb equals Flaccid Dragon.

  • JC

    Oh to the pastor who says race is not playing a part in the athletics and who gets to play or maybe the comment was about the commentators, sorry my memory is poor and I am working.

    But Remember Eion Hu. Harvard’s greatest tailback ever for Harvard Football. Second all time leader rusher in Harvard history.

    He was a greater football player at Harvard, than Lin as a basketball player. It was either his first or first two years at Harvard. HE NEVER EVER SAW ANY PLAYING TIME, DESPITE BEING IN PRACTICE A BETTER PLAYER THAN THE OTHER TAILBACKS.

    It was and is race not because of Lin and Eion Hu, who they were, it is just because typically the performance of other Asians is and has been so lousy in sports that when you see or saw Lin and Hu, you wonder if you saw an aberration.

    We Hu, didn’t play hoot (have to have some fun with Dr. Seuss). Then both tailbacks in front of him get injured before the season or right after the 1st or 2nd Harvard game of Hu’s junior year. Hu is the third string tailback, he was a little skin too, that was a major problem, 5 10 175 or maybe 200, I don’t know.

    But then Eion Hu goes off for 150 yards every game, rushes for 1000 yards his junior year and is Ivy League Newcomer of the Year, senior year, Hu runs for 1400 yards and was Ivy League Player of the Year. I believe that this was from 92′-96.

    Look it up, greatest tailback ever at Harvard, Eion Hu, full Chinese, never ever played a lick his first year or first two years. Why? Well did you ever see Chinese taiback that was skinny and good? Very very rare. Hu was and still is the man. A Chinese Barry Sanders, he too had the lateral movement, he would start at your by running north-south, then break off and go lateral. He didn’t break that many tackles, it was all lateral movement and quickness.

    • JC

      Really sorry for all the typos, good Lord if I was typing so poorly in my work, I would be fired.

  • greetings from Arizona! 😉

  • JC

    Did anyone see this story? It just goes to show you that there was always an elephant in the rooom (the issue raceone is partly and a fundamental part of why everyone is calling Lin’s takeover of the NBA a “Cinderella Story”). Jason Whitlock apologizes for offensive Jeremy Lin tweet

    Read more:

  • Mattingly Irons

    JC, you go, boy! I like your no-holds-barred honesty, your willingness to speak your mind.

    • JC

      Except I get a Blue Parking Sticker for typing.

  • JC

    Here is a story on Eion Hu, the (Asian) running back from Harvard, one of the best running backs ever in the Ivy league. Safe to say, back in 1993, when he started, the expectations for him as a tailback were lower than those for/of Jeremy Lin. At least by the time Lin began Harvard, their Harvard’s greatest tailback and one of their greatest football players was known to be Eion Hu, a Chinese American. To some degree, this help Jeremy.

  • MrTamale

    Mr. Dalrymple, I am glad that that you look into where stereotypes come from, but you fail to mention the media’s role. Explaining the positive role of Asian women, you point out that many are doctors, lawyers, businesswomen, etc. But so are Asian men. Doctors like billionaire Patrick Soon-shiong, lawyers like Morgan Chu (one-time trial lawyer of the year) and businessmen like Min Kao and William Wang (CEOs of Garmin and Vizio, respectively) have especially distinguished themselves. Add to that military men like Eric Shinseki, decorated 4-star general and, well, the 442nd regiment, the most decorated military unit in US history, and you’ve got a lot of distinguished, real-life Asian men. And yet…Asian men are portrayed as weak, nerdy or lacking in moral character. While Asian women get top roles in medical dramas like ER and Grey’s Anatomy, Asian men toil in the background as scrubs and nurses, a pattern that was pointed out by a blond, blue-eyed female writer, Sheridan Prasso in her book. Since you’re from Harvard, how about this: in the movie Social Network, there’s no mention of Wayne Chang, whose partnership with the Winklevoss twins forms much of the controversy in Facebook’s early years. Maybe it’d be too much for moviegoers to see an enterprising, energetic, regular college guy who happens to be Asian. Look at the early Fast and Furious movies (before Justin Lin, no relation to Jeremy) took the helm, and you see further portrayals of Asian men as villains, in a setting (California’s hot-rod car scene) where they typically are front-and-center, which I’m sure you know all about, being from California.
    I could go on and on. But my main point is that, in comparing Asian men and women, you take it almost as a given that Asian men are potrayed the way they actually are, when the things you use to describe Asian women–helpful, educated, professionals–also apply to the men.
    The differentiating factor is the MEDIA. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Time magazine’s recent cover picks. For the Asia edition, it’s Jeremy Lin on front. For Europe, the Americas, and the U.S., it’s dictator Kim Jong-on. Good grief. Looks like an Asian guy can only be on front if he’s, well, a villain.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I didn’t convey (or didn’t mean to convey) that the stereotypes portray Asian American men in the way they really are. I just meant that stereotypes rarely arise out of nowhere. In this case, some of the stereotypes (the nerd, for instance) come from Asian American values that we should actually celebrate (the strong emphasis on education, especially in the sciences). The problem is when we take those cultural values or statistical factors (such as the high rates of admission of Asian Americans to elite universities) and twist them (this is where the media has a role) into negative stereotypes without any context or presentation of counter-examples, or when we use those generalizations and make them absolute (since many Asian Americans perform well academically, therefore all Asian Americans are geeks) or etc.

      I wouldn’t go too far on the point about cover pics. Jeremy’s on the cover of an awful lot of magazines and newspapers right now. But I get your point in general, and I don’t disagree with it at all.

      God bless,


  • kristl

    It doesn’t matter how much people can pick apart your article by citing stats and being insanely reductionist. the facts are these: 1) stereotypes about Asians exist, 2) most people think Asian stereotypes are fine and not harmful, 3) Jeremy Lin defies harmful Asian-male stereotypes, 4) this is a good thing.

    For everyone who hasn’t yet checked their Asian stereotypes – 1) read this article, 2) admit that you might use Jeremy Lin and this article to grow a little, 3) continue loving Jeremy Lin.

    Gosh – it’s not that hard.

  • JC

    Lyrics to Jeremy Lin x Jimmy Fallon x Pearl Jam

    At home, shooting free throws
    and three point shots,
    Waiting for a job, name not yet a pun
    Carmelo injury,
    came out of nowhere like an Asian Tebow
    The Knicks were 8-15,
    oh and before that no one really cared
    Now Jeremy is winning
    and the Knicks don’t suck
    Jeremy Linsanity, Jeremy Linsanity
    Clearly I remember picking on the boy,
    seemed a little Harvard nerd
    when he beat Kobe Bryant,
    set a screen and took it to the hole to show
    that Asian men can drive,
    and he hit them with a surprise three,
    the crowd went crazy, now he’s famous
    just turned down a date with Kim Kardashian
    Spike Lee’s on the sideline cheering,
    and tickets to a game costs 800 bucks
    Now that the Knicks are winning,
    it’s a miracle
    Jeremy Linsanity, Jeremy Linsanity
    Trying to bank this
    Trying to bank this
    Trying to bank this
    Trying to bank this
    off the backboard
    Jeremy Linsanity

    Read more:


  • JC

    Remember when I said Lin was a big guard, and not 200 but around 210.

    This from the NYTIMES, he began the strike shortened season at 212, “Evolution of a Point Guard.”

    “He compared Lin to a stretched-out rubber band — flexible, but
    lacking that snap-back quality. The goal was to make him “stiffer,”
    through a training program of heavy weights and low repetition, in
    conjunction with a high-protein diet. With the added muscle, Lin
    pushed his weight to 212 pounds from 200, while increasing his
    vertical leap by 3.5 inches, Wagner said. The result is evident every
    time Lin barrels into the lane this season.”