Ethnic and Local Press Examines Linsanity’s Ripple Effect

Since the point guard Jeremy Lin debuted in the Knicks’ starting lineup, he has been a trending topic of discussion the basketball world and in the ethnic and community press. From his success as a floor general against the Los Angeles Lakers to his recent failure as a turnover-prone ball handler against the Miami Heat, Lin has captured the attention of fans across the globe and here in New York City. Although he often downplays the importance of his ethnicity, the ethnic and community media has been keen to note his impact as an Asian American.

The Queens Chronicle, for instance, reported that several of Flushing’s Chinese residents have expressed their excitement over Lin’s rise in the NBA.

Lois Chin Lee works with children at PS 20 in Flushing and said that Lin has been a real inspiration to youngsters. “We have a basketball team made up of 10-year-old fifth graders and they are very excited about him,” Lee said. “Now everyone takes an interest in the PS 20 games, even grandmas are coming out.”

She added that Lin “has leveled the playing field” for Asian Americans, because it has been “hard for them to break into sports. Now kids feel they can make it.”

The fervor surrounding Lin has been contagious. As Colorlines reported, Lin’s breakthrough in the NBA has also empowered Asian American athletes across the nation.

One person who’s watching especially close is Jamie Hagiya. A 26-year-old Japanese American basketball player from Southern California, Hagiya played four years at point guard for the University of Southern California’s women’s basketball team. She finished her career ranking in the top 10 in school history for assists (417), 3-point field goals (132) and games played (120). After graduating in 2007, Hagiya played professionally in Greece and Spain before coming back to the United States. These days, she spends her time running basketball clinics and training for a shot to play in the WNBA.

“I could be the next Jeremy Lin,” she laughs, before explaining Lin’s real appeal to her. “This is something the Asian American community has been waiting for, for someone to break through and be given a chance.”

Perhaps the most important effect of Lin’s gradual ascension is his ability to unite people of different backgrounds. In a league dominated by African Americans, Lin’s underdog story has changed widely-held beliefs about Asian American athletes, according to the World Journal.

Tsin Chu, a sports fan, believes that Lin has made many Asian Americans proud. He and forty of his friends watched Lin play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at a bar [several weeks ago]. Chu said that the Asian Americans and African Americans there all cheered for Lin. He was proud to see the unity.

Lin’s Asian American story is one that has also inspired people of non-Asian backgrounds. Andrew Furman of The Jewish Week, for example, discussed how Lin’s ability to break free from racial stereotypes represents a victory for other minorities who have similarly experienced his struggle.

[W]hat makes Lin’s story so inspiring, especially for fellow minorities beset by similar cultural stereotypes, is the sheer moxie he’s shown in writing his own narrative, conventional plot lines be damned. So I suspect that Jews, in particular, are rooting for Lin much like we’ve rooted for our few Jewish hoopsters — the Grunfelds and the Farmars, the Schayeses and the Scheyers. Heck, most people are rooting for Lin.

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