Jeremy Lin Is Making History In The NBA Finals, But There Is Still A Long Way To Go

6 min read 

Joining the Toronto Raptors this season is veteran point guard Jeremy Lin, who is having another high point in his NBA career. Despite having played for a very limited amount of time in the playoffs, Jeremy Lin became the first American-born Chinese NBA player to make a presence in the NBA finals.

Celebrating the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lin shared his passion and joy on his personal Instagram earlier in May.

The 30-year-old California-born basketball player had experiences struggles throughout his basketball career recently. After a season-ending injury in 2017, Lin was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, and then later decided to join the Raptors. In the 2018-2019 NBA regular season, Lin put up an average of 9.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. It is worth it to note that his statistics this reason are below the average career performance, during which Lin can score 11.6 point, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on average per game.

The decline in his performance shows the negative effects that the knee injury brought: Despite making history by breaking into the NBA Finals, Lin has yet to find his way back to his prime time, where every basketball fan knows about his Linsanity legacy. Lin’s story made it into the Google 2012 Year In Review.

Having played for 8 NBA teams in his 9-year career, Lin certainly did not have an ordinary career as many other top elites who are playing in the league. Despite having similar performances as the No. 1 Pick in 2010 Draft John Wall, the Harvard graduate did not have his luck in the 2010 NBA draft and signed with the Golden State Warriors (GSW) undrafted. Having no substantial play time with the GSW, Jeremy Lin was soon transferred to the Houston Rockets, and later to the New York Knicks.

It was 2012, and Lin had spent almost two years in the NBA. His contract was about to expire and was likely going to be waived by the New York Knicks. However, due to the tightened game schedule after the 2011 NBA lockout and the injuries in the team, Lin got more opportunities to showcase his talent. On Feb. 4th, 2012, matching up with All-Star point guard and former Olympics Gold Medalist Deron Williams, Lin scored 25 points, made 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Marking an all-new high in his career across every parameter, Lin led the Knicks to finish the game with a final score of 99-92 against the New Jersey Nets. Lin’s performance started to explode in the follow games, scoring more than 20 points and led the New York Knicks into a series of victories in the following weeks. Lin made several decisive plays, including making a last-second three-pointer in the game against the Toronto Raptors on the road.

The first wave of Linsanity has brought the undrafted Asian-American player significant hope and attention from the league. However, throughout his playing career, Lin was not particularly lucky and was kept and seen as a bench player. So far in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, Lin only played 7 games with very limited playtime and scored a total of 9 points in garbage times.

Despite facing intense competition on the court, Lin was often treated unfairly in his times off the court. While playing on the road against Milwaukee Bucks, Lin was stopped by the security, who thought Lin was a fan trying to sneak onto the team’s bus. This was not the first time that Lin got stopped by security personnel in the game. While playing for the Knicks, Jeremy Lin was even stopped by the home team security guard, who did not recognize Lin despite the fact that he is playing for the team.

This is one of the many race issues that Lin faced as an Asian American basketball player in the league. On Lin’s own Wikipedia page, a section dedicated to the number of racial discriminations that Lin faced throughout his playing career is documented. Ivy league basketball fans used racial slurs against the Harvard player, and several sports celebrities, such as Floyd Mayweather and Kenyon Martin, engaged in unwelcoming comments and conversations on Lin’s racial background.

Facing injustice and unfair treatments, Lin did not back down from prejudice and discrimination. In 2013, Lin openly commented that his racial background is likely to be a reason for him not getting a Division I basketball scholarship and subsequently went undrafted. David Stern, the former commissioner of the NBA, agreed with Lin’s comment and argued that race might have played a factor to Lin’s non-selection in the 2010 NBA draft.

While Asian Americans are recognized in sports, it is still rare for Asian Americans to be recognized in major sport events such as hockey, basketball and football. When it comes to Asian American athletes, the average American tends to think of figures such as Michelle Kwan and Chloe Kim. The lack of masculinity and representation of Asian American males in major sports are issues that need to be addressed.

The lack of role models, training, and potentially expertise in training professional athletes, are all likely going to be the factors that are stopping future Asian American prospects to become successful in high-performance sports. While Jeremy Lin is breaking the ice in basketball, there are more that needs to be done for Asian Americans to make a presence in other events. It requires long-term efforts, and more importantly, more active participation for all Asian Americans in sports and more ideally, professional sports.

It remains unclear where Jeremy Lin will be heading towards after this season, regardless of the final outcomes of the 2019 NBA Finals. Becoming a free agent in the summer, Jeremy Lin will be fighting for another contract to remain in the most competitive basketball league in the world. However, his declining statistics and reliance on possessions might make him struggle in securing a new contract. In the fast-paced, pass-oriented games today, Lin’s play style might be a bit difficult to accommodate for teams going for the championship rings.

Looking back at Lin’s 2018-2019 regular season, it is evident that his guidance and expertise have significantly benefited rookie players in the Hawks. Trae Young, the 5th overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, said that he loved playing alongside Lin at the Hawks. As a veteran player who has been through many teams, players, and most importantly, difficult occasions in one’s career, Lin’s skills and experiences will be definitely valuable for any team who is looking to improve their prospects and chemistry in the long run.

Jeremy Lin has been a player who offers surprises and great performances. Similar to Linsanity, many did not expect Lin to come back from the injury and now playing in the NBA finals. It is too early to mark a conclusion to Lin’s career. There could certainly still be some miraculous moves that can come out from Lin’s NBA experience.

Featured photo credit to newtalk.tw

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