(Editor’s note: This was written during the heyday of Linsanity in February.)
And I don’t mean in a political way (this blog is politics-free) – but in a sense of expectations.
Before Obama became the leader of the free world, there were at least fictional depictions of black presidents in pop-culture.
Dennis Haysbert’s portrayal of President David Palmer provided the backbone to Jack Bauer. Morgan Freeman attempted to keep the country calm when a runaway comet was ready to obliterate earth. Chris Rock even played a president in Head of State.
Point being, we’ve seen a black president before it really happened. Whether it’s reality is irrelevant. Fiction or non-fiction, black presidents have been on the pop-cultural radar well before Obama actually became the president in 2008.
An Asian-American NBA player on the other hand was about as far-fetched as Dwight Howard making a decision.
Yao Ming was different. We (Asian-Americans) didn’t relate to him. Despite our common ancestry, someone born in China is very foreign to us.
But Lin – this kid is one of us. I feel like I know him. I feel like I balled with him on a brisk Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of the Chinese Christian Church of NJ in Parsippany back in the early 90s.
My friends and I were hoops junkies since the 80s. I unfortunately caught on a bit late in the ‘91-’92 season (post Magic/Bird rivalry), but Walt, Ben, Arnold, Danny and Conrad mimicked Dominque and Jordan’s moves in the parking lot. Pete’s wall was plastered with Nike Jordan posters. Steve wore an oversized, barely broken-in ‘88-’89 Bad Boys Detroit Pistons championship baseball hat that was way too big for his big head.
Isiah. Michael. Nique. Magic. Larry.
These were our our heroes. Heroes that we would never be able to precisely emulate. We never thought that one of us would ever be able to hold their own against these perennial Hall of Famers.
When Lin scored 25 against the Nets, it could have been dismissed as a fluke. Then he dunked against the Wizards. Then came the 38 point barrage against the Lakers on ESPN. Then came the two clutch free-throws against the T-Wolves in hostile environment. Then came that balls-to-the-wall dagger three-point game winner against the Raptors.
I look forward to heading back to that CCCNJ parking lot and watching the youth group do post moves and crossover dribbles on each other – driving into the lane – not imitating Derrick Rose, LeBron James, or Kevin Durant, but Jeremy Lin.
The fact that the hopes of one of those kids stepping onto the floor of an NBA game is just that much more plausible makes the whole Linsanity craze worth it to me – an idea that would have been completely implausible in January.