The Double-Lin Standard
The Double-Lin Standard
by: Leevert Holmes
Dj Elbow Greasy
What people liked about Jeremy Lynn was that he was a Harvard graduate, Asian seem detached from the trappings of a millionaire professional basketball player. Jeremy Lin was the antithesis of the modern athlete: un/mis-educated, Black and rich.
Jeremy Lin wasn't a millionaire. He did not have an entourage and rather than openly professing his love for hip-hop culture and music, he was saved. The creation of Jeremy’s Lin’s identity reminds me of the caricature the Republican Party created to appeal to the average American, “Joe the Plumber." Remember Joe, whose five minutes evolved from a brief encounter with then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and followed with campaign stomps McCain and Palin. Jeremy used his five minutes of fame on Broadway, transforming the Knicks following an 2-11 record into a seven game win streak. This “Lin-Vision" attempted to sanitize the league into a contrived color-blind playing-field, making the modern black athlete obsolete, if not for a temporary moment.
All of which came to an abrupt end at the stroke of twelve, Wednesday morning July 18. It was official, Jeremy Lin would no longer play in a New York Knick uniform. A decision without THE DECISION. Or was it? Why did Houston change its initial three year offer of $19million to $25million with $14million salary for the 2014-2015 season? Why Houston? Why wasn’t he scrutinized by the public as voraciously as Lebron James and Ray Allen for joining Miami? Race Matters!
Lebron James represented the state of Ohio in both his amateur and professional career, winning State championships, Rookie of the Year, two-time MVP, scoring title, best-record in the league, willing the Cavs to their first playoff in eight years and advancing to the NBA finals. As a Boston Celtic, Ray Allen set the record for most three-pointers by an NBA player, willed his team to a championship and had his mother attend practically every game I can imagine with her jeweled encrusted Allen Celtics’ jersey, million-dollar smile and urban chic haircut. Ray Allen, who defined humility before Kevin Durant. Ray Allen, who came into the league at the same time as Allen Iverson, without the crossover, tattoos, entourage, off-court controversy and the infamous complaints of “practice," and yet remains a relevant player in the league. No disrespect to Iverson, whose loyalty was never questioned, but rather his decision-making during the tail-end of his career, quickly diminished his lasting legacy.
Unlike Lin, both players had a stellar and established career in the league. And unlike Like, both players signed contracts below their market value. And unlike Lin, both players were heavily scrutinized as traitors for abandoning their team. And unlike Jeremy Lin, both players are like African-descent.
Not only did Lebron James receive death threats but bonfires of his jersey and related apparel was held in his honor. His team owner wrote a public letter outright calling him a traitor, amongst other names, and boasting that the Cavs would win a championship before the Heat. Ray Allen, the consummate professional, felt compelled to place an advertisement in Sunday’s Boston Globe and Danny Ainge, former player and Celtics current General manager claimed that Ray Allen left the Celtics, rather than admitting that he had been on the trading block for the past two years.
Jeremy Lin’s decision to leave New York, was based on money. It’s similar to his decision to sign with Nike, rather than as a Harvard graduate, use his education to protest or boycott a company who exploits the same people that he supposedly “represents" and maintains a loyal following. If we chose to honor Jeremy Lin for his shrewdness in compelling the Knicks to match an offer requiring them to pay him an inflated salary of $14million for the 2014-2015 season, than we should honor Ray Allen and Lebron James for leaving their respective teams and signing for a significantly below market contracts.
But there is value in Jeremy Lin. Of the 8million stories in New York City, here was yet another chapter in the New York City point guards. Not that he was born in any of the five boroughs (full disclosure, neither was I), but like the God MC Rakim once penned, “It aint where you from but where you at. With his five minutes of fame, and the lights shinning of Broadway, Lin transformed the Knicks following an 2-11 record into a seven game win streak. During that moment, graduating from college mattered. Being humbled, mattered. Being an underdog, mattered. And in the eyes of the NBA, the Asian community, despite losing Yao Ming to a career ending injury, once again, mattered. To put it plain, as Cornel West penned, Race Mattered.