#Linsanity. You’ve seen it all over the social networks for weeks now, but what is the key story in Jeremy Lin’s meteoric rise on the Knicks? Sure, he’s phenomenal to watch on the court. No one can deny that he works hard.

Looking purely at the numbers, Lin’s performance has been spectacular. He has set records for scoring the most in his third and fourth career starts since the ABA-NBA merger in 1977. I’m sure that meant something to someone; I could barely figure out what that means. But just catch any game and you can sense his undeniable tenacity and instincts. So let’s accept for the moment that Lin would be a standout player no matter his race or career history.

But the story isn’t that simple. Lin is not just a great player, he’s the greatest (and first) Taiwanese-American player in the history of the NBA. While in an ideal world, his race shouldn’t even be an issue, we’re not at that point yet. He’s being recognized for standing out and breaking stereotypes. As Eric Adelson writes in his report on Floyd Mayweather’s tweet, the hype is equivalent to if “a black golfer came out of Stanford and started winning golf majors…[or] two black sisters from Compton dominated the world of tennis.” For Asian-American men, who are too often emasculated by American media and culture, Lin represents something much more than a star basketball player. He expands the public consciousness of what an Asian man can do, especially athletically. Undaunted by bigger foes, he fearlessly drives towards the net. As point-guard, he demonstrates great leadership in leading the team. Courage and leadership, two traits that aren’t commonly attributed to Asians are now generously lavished on Lin.

I’m not going to write about how Lin was overlooked likely because he is Asian. That topic is covered extensively in the media and especially well sexplicated by Timothy Dalrymple in his post on “Jeremy Lin and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations.” ¬†Instead, my focus is on supporting Lin despite whatever basketball allegiance you might have. No doubt if you have Asian friends, you’ve seen them eagerly jump on the Linsanity bandwagon. People who had previously never watched a basketball game in their lives were buying #17 Knicks jerseys and crowding into bars to watch the games. Being an Asian-American, originally from the Bay Area and now living in New York, I am exactly that demographic that should be fawning over Lin. I’m not a sports fan. I have no qualms about cheering on the teams that my friends care about. In short, I have no team loyalty.

Bandwagoning has such negative connotations in the world of sports fanaticism. Supporting a team only when it’s doing well or because it’s getting more media coverage seems anathema to what real sports fans do. Indeed, there is truth to that. Teams rely on their core fans through the good times and the bad. All I’m saying is that no matter your loyalty to your own team, there’s no reason not to support the rise of diversity in sports. In other words, don’t be a hater. Lin is bigger than basketball. While he’s no Jackie Robinson, he is hopefully just the start of shifting public perceptions of Asian-Americans. You don’t need to support the Knicks if you’re really desperate to hold onto your own team, but that does not mean you can’t support Lin’s personal success. Linsanity is hopefully not just a fad, and treating it like one will ensure that Asian-American basketball players will remain that way.

One response to “Why You Should Hop on the Jeremy Lin Bandwagon”

  1. A very opposite perspective coming from a very extreme diehard sports background as I’ve always rooted for the Lakers and UCLA having attended Laker games since the Forum and the Lavin era on at Pauley. I am also Asian American and played in the Japanese American leagues for 10 years for what its worth.

    Firstly… “Lin is bigger than basketball.”

    No, he’s not. How can he be bigger than the opportunity presented before him? Or bigger than the 300 other players and 29 other teams that collectively are the only reason the NBA exists? Or bigger than the minimum wage janitors, scouts and staff that run the arenas who got screwed most by the players and owners in the lockout fighting over millions of dollars and forgetting the little people that needed to keep working the most? Its expected the Lakers are going to be contributing $50 million a year to future revenue sharing to help the less successful teams cover financial losses. As much as I want the Lakers to win which includes having the spending power to outbid everyone else for free agents you won’t hear me complaining about this. The Lakers wouldn’t be the franchise they are without 29 other teams with full rosters and staff to play against.

    No story should dominate coverage like this. Yes, its different and unique. For a few days. But not this. I wakeup to ESPN radio and follow The Herd on ESPN radio, Around the Horn on ESPN, Pardon the Interruption on ESPN, Mason & Ireland on ESPN radio and SportsCenter daily. Another 100 rss feeds and blogs from ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, NBC, and every NBA, NFL and NCAA outlet you can think of spill into my Google Reader with 1000s of entries I sort through daily. Yes, I have no life lol. The “Mark all as read” button is currently my best friend and I’ve stopped following everything until this is over. And then there’s still Facebook and Twitter.

    Don’t get me wrong, I want Lin to succeed and Asian Americans in the bigger athletic picture but due to the media and everyone jumping on the bandwagon not right now. Good for Lin for doing exactly what he should be doing with a very fortunate and lucky situation that he is taking absolute full advantage of plus more but I cannot wait for the schedule to turn (anyone remember the Houston Rockets 22 game win streak that only happened because of fortunate scheduling and timely injuries to opponents?) and the Knicks to lose (yes I’m definitely rooting and will be counting on them to lose in another week or so) and this whole thing to die down so I can return to following 29 other teams and 300 other feel good stories. I wouldn’t even support this if he was a Laker or this was happening at UCLA. Even when the Lakers win the NBA title the incessant media coverage stops after a day or two.

    I obviously much prefer to see a regularly covered NBA as a whole which I would be more than happy to have include several Asian basketball players in the future but not this ridiculous blow up story that’s just annoyingly everywhere. I quite frankly don’t really care and it doesn’t matter to me. Granted I’ve never been on the outside to look in with an unbiased view. But I’m not sure its fair to assume everyone including diehard fans of opposing teams should automatically support this. Bandwagon fans haven’t experienced the highs and lows of sports that get taken personally. Laker playoff losses don’t ruin their night. They aren’t the last fan of all their friends to regularly attend UCLA football and basketball games during literally the worst decade in the history of UCLA sports. They don’t travel to Indianapolis, Atlanta and San Antonio just to watch the team they love lose three times three years in a row or experience the highs of every BCS Rose Bowl game for how many years running or enjoy the victory in attending Laker playoff games capped off with game 7 vs the Celtics. At the end of the day it isn’t the fact I paid 1k for NFC championship tickets that I gave away or the additional 1k I had bet on the game and lost but it was how bad I felt for giving tickets to someone that wanted to witness a win more than anything and knowing how much it burns to see in person your team lose in that win or go home atmosphere. And this sadly wasn’t even the first time I had given away tickets to someone for a game of this magnitude only for their team to lose.

    Its having this undying loyalty that also results in a lot of hating on rivals and opponents and basically everything and anything that could possibly stand in their way. The amount of hatred spewed down from all other cities on Los Angeles just fuels the fire. The trash talking Nuggets of the Melo days, Portland and their stupid Beat LA chants 2 hours before tipoff and refusal to spell the Lakers name as they use L*kers, Spike Lee for being the most annoying courtside attention whore, a good percentage of the entire NBA I won’t draft in fantasy basketball because I hate the players for no real legitimate reason and I could go on and name something for all 29 teams but this isn’t even reserved for just opponents. I wasn’t a fan of Neuheisel ever and there’s always that fine line do you root against your own team to fire the coach, provoke change or draft position or keep supporting the players. Don’t get me started on Dragovic. Guerrero and Howland are also now on the hot seat where everyone wants everyone fired at UCLA. No one is a fan of Jim Buss. The entire Staples Center arena is already sighing with every World Peace three knowing he’s gonna miss. People hated Farmar for his lack of discipline to run an offense or Sasha always fouling 50 feet from the basket. And then there’s Luke Walton’s contract. I can go on forever. I can also go on with feel good stories like Lin that happen in the NBA that few people even read about and follow.

    Hating on Lin under this current media circus is nothing out of the ordinary for someone like me. Yes, I follow the NBA and sports too closely. Yes, I have no life. Yes, I have a lot of unwarranted hatred. But I’ll still be following all the feel good stories 2 years from now when no one else is and not just bandwagon on one because its in New York around an Asian American that got passed up by everyone. The attention this has gotten has crossed the line for me. Auto fade the Knicks!