From a benchwarmer to an NBA basketball player who led the New York Knicks to seven consecutive victories in February 2012, Jeremy Lin's inspiring Cinderella story has incited “Linsanity” in the United States and Taiwan. It has also occupied the pages of every major American newspaper, and indeed swept the world. (Update: Lin was removed from the court in late March to recover from a knee injury)
Jeremy Lin's past life, his religious faith, his experience studying at Harvard University, his status as an Asian American and other such points of interest have been closely examined by the media. The outstanding performance of Lin also caused American society to critically examine the issue of racial discrimination in the NBA.
Jeremy Lin's parents are immigrants from Taiwan. With his father's encouragement, he fell in love with basketball and represented his high school and university competitively, achieving quite good results. However, Jeremy Lin's road to professional basketball was in no way smooth. Lin had been passed over twice in two NBA drafts, signed with the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, and was later let go by both teams before he was signed by the New York Knicks.
An unlikely rise to fame
However, the contract Lin signed with the Knicks was a non-guaranteed “probationary contract”. As a result, he didn't want to rashly enter into a long-term lease in New York. So, fellow Knicks player and good friend Landry Fields let Lin sleep on his sofa temporarily. After Jeremy Lin's rise to fame, that sofa was held up by the media as a “magic couch.”
At the time, even with a star line-up, the New York Knicks were unable to effectively integrate their team, resulting in just 8 wins in 23 games. As a result, there was speculation that if the Knicks lost again to the New Jersey Nets on February 4, the Knicks would fall below the Nets in the rankings, and coach Mike D'Antoni would be in danger of being fired. However, in the February 4 game against the Nets, D'Antoni took a shot in the dark by sending benchwarmer Jeremy Lin onto the field. Lin then scored 25 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds, helping the Knicks to victory. This game released Jeremy Lin from the worry of being dropped, and allowed him to smoothly obtain a guaranteed contract. Because of his dazzling performance in the game, Lin was consistently placed in the starting line-up in subsequent games, repeatedly breaking his personal best and leading the Knicks to an impressive seven consecutive victories.
The outstanding performance of Asian American Jeremy Lin has also caused all areas of American society to critically examine the issue of racial discrimination in the NBA. Few NBA players have received higher education or are devout Christians. Add to that the fact that Asian people are often subject to racial discrimination in the sporting field, and this is another reason for Jeremy Lin's explosion in popularity. Before Jeremy Lin became famous, spectators would reportedly sometimes call out discriminatory remarks like “Go back where you came from!” In a match against Connecticut when Lin was studying at Harvard, the first time he stepped up to the free throw line, a bigoted basketball fan yelled “Won ton soup!” from the stands. However, Jeremy Lin broke the stereotype, proving with his abilities that he could hold a place in the NBA, which is largely dominated by African American players.
“The light of Taiwan”
Jeremy Lin's meteoric rise to fame and explosion in popularity raised a wave of ‘Linsanity’ among the Taiwanese people, and made him the pride of Taiwan. All major newspapers have extravagantly portrayed him as “the light of Taiwan.”
However, “piet” on the forum Mobile 01 sparked heated online discussion after reposting an article [zh] by Tsinghua University physics professor Wang Daowei: “Nothing simple about Jeremy's parents” [zh]. Wang Daowei believes that Taiwanese parents don't encourage their children to pursue their dreams in life, but rather make them follow a less risky path:
According to Taiwanese blogger Heiyu (‘Black Rain’), Jeremy Lin is “the light of America” [zh].
Jeremy Lin's accomplishments are the accomplishments of America. What we should learn from this is how to give the next generation of Taiwanese children who are interested in sport access to a similarly adequate standard of training, development and employment environment. We shouldn't take an opportunistic attitude, trying to bask in another country's glory.
Additionally, some bloggers think it's unimportant whether Jeremy Lin is “the light of Taiwan.” Study Success Blog believes that in comparison, the much more important question is why Jeremy Lin achieved such a remarkable performance. [zh]：
Online discussion on popular BBS forum PTT has also been intense. “Safelove's” claim that Jeremy Lin is a disgrace to Taiwanese basketball [zh] and is not the light of Taiwan, received a heated response.
What do you think? What thoughts do you have on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon? We welcome you to share them with us.