lin-dentity crisis

among the hundreds of mini games that sean s and i have made up, one of the top active games is trying to come up with as many jeremy lin puns and trying to slip them by each other.

[daily what]

Linderella Story. The Harvard grad reportedly crashed on his brother’s couch while waiting for his NBA contract to be finalized. But now he’s moving to the Trump Tower. So is that why this is a Linderella story, as seen in the photo above? Or because he quickly traveled (basketball pun!) his way into the public eye and is having a slam-dunk (again!) season?

All He Does is Lin, Lin, Lin. Once Shaq tweeted this one to his 5 million followers, there was really just no use in trying to stop it. That was really the beginning of the end.

Does This Look Lin-fected? Variations of this one have popped up all over the place, including on Tumblr as a graphic featuring a roaring Lin with the words, “I’ve been Linfected.”

Linning. This even inspired a website and yet another meme imitating a popular sports figure. But it’s still dredging up painful memories of the Charlie Sheen #winning fiasco. Someone, please, make it stop.

Happy VaLINtine’s Day. The good thing about this one is that it’s no longer topical. It had its court time all over Twitter, but now that February 14 has passed, it has officially been benched.

Jere-meat Sauce with Lin-guine. This is David Letterman’s pick for number 3 worst Jeremy Lin pun, which he discussed on Wednesday’s Late Show. This is, however, one of the best ones ever, because it incorporates Lin’s far trickier first name. Kudos, David Letterman.

If you’re a bit late to the pun game, visit the Jeremy Lin Word Generator for inspiration. Though most puns have only been offensive in how groan-worthy they are, others have been much more controversial, like the New York Post‘s front page featuring the headline “Amasian.” Several other newspapers across the nation have also featured Lin puns, from “ThrilLIN’” to “bLINg.”

As some begin to question if the Knicks’ star point guard’s fame will soon end, NewsFeed knows the puns will forever live in linfamy. (Okay, seriously, we’re done now.)


just as i had to have an opinion on brokeback mountain (and subsequent loss to crash, six years ago today!) and tiger parenting, it is difficult not to avoid the online news zeitgeist locus of jeremy lin as an asian male, especially as an asian male who is quasi redefining his identity and becoming more active. 

this is really just a linkdump of an entry, but i actually haven’t settled on any strong feelings about any of this.  i feel like i SHOULD, but in the end: i am not wrapped up in linsanity, i am not terribly offended by the racial overtones of it all, i do enjoy the idea of jeremy-lin-as-a-symbol, and i am absolutely intrigued when relatively innocuous events can inspire SO MUCH INTERNET INK and social movements. 

1) race studies and racism.  LA Times: Knicks’ Jeremy Lin holds mirror up to America and Grantland: A Question of Identity (via jason)

“In this country, Asian Americans are stereotyped as the meek and the mild, the ones who will always take the racism,” said Daryl Maeda, an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado who specializes in Asian American studies. ”There is a perception that it’s OK to offend Asian Americans because they simply won’t fight back.”

In marginalizing the Jeremy Lin story, that newsman actually illustrated its real importance. This newfound basketball force has forced Americans to take a deep breath and think. He has forced America to realize it has become too comfortable compartmentalizing Asian Americans with a list of stereotypes that are misguided, mean-spirited and just plain wrong.

And yet, while you’re never fully aware, you’re never fully not aware, either. Like many of the Asian American kids of my generation stuck somewhere between white and black, I filled the vacant parts of my identity with basketball and hip-hop. It was misdirected and yawningly suburban, sure, but by the time I walked to the plate in that softball game, I had built up a glittering yet utterly fragile structure of black iconography, all of which stood in nicely for my reality as an Asian kid without many friends who spent almost all his time worrying about debate tournaments and all the pretty, unattainable girls on the fast track to sorority row.

The pride we feel over his accomplishments is deeply personal and cuts across discomforting truths that many of us have never discussed. It’s why a headline that reads “Chink in the Armor,” or Jason Whitlock’s tweeted joke about “two inches of pain,” stings with a new intensity. Try to understand, everything said about Jeremy Lin, whether glowing, dismissive, or bigoted, doubles as a referendum on where we, as a people, stand. This, by definition, is absurd. But when there’s almost no other public representation of your people in the mainstream media, Hollywood, or in politics, you hawk, fervently, over whatever comes your way.

For the growing percentage of Asian Americans who would like to see their minority status as nothing more than a curiosity, “Chink in the Armor” spotlighted what we already knew, but seldom admit: Even the most vigilant parts of our society do not treat all racism the same way. There’s no way for me, as an ESPN employee, to comment on what happened Saturday morning without compromising my integrity as a writer. I have no interest in shilling for ESPN and hope that readers will afford me the grace to not see any of this as an attempt to push an Asian American face out in front of this mess.

This much is clear: We still haven’t figured out how to talk about Asian Americans. The term “model minority” has long since expired, for good reason, but the nerdy kid who, through hard work and natural intelligence, pulls himself into good standing still remains the dominant narrative. For the most part, that’s how Jeremy Lin has been processed. He’s described as humble and smart and a great kid who worked hard to overcome long odds. All these things might be true, but they simply mirror the quiet way in which we succeed in this country. In an earlier column, I said that it has become standard practice among high-achieving Asian Americans to dodge any questions about race. This impulse comes, I believe, out of guilt and a pervasive, irrational fear that if we talk too much about prejudice and act too indignant over insensitive comments, the powers that be will reverse the course of history and send us back to building railroads. As such, if Jeremy Lin simply went about his business, got his stats, and helped his teammates, his accomplishments would be celebrated, but they might not resonate as powerfully with his Asian American fans.

Instead, we have a 23-year-old kid who dunks, keeps the ball for himself in pressure situations, preens, chest bumps, and gets caught up in Kim Kardashian rumors. The public record of Jeremy Lin might show a modest kid who praises Jesus, but that’s not how he conducts himself on the court. I’m not particularly proud of it, but over the past two weeks, I’ve exchanged countless e-mails with my Asian American friends about how the only way the Jeremy Lin story could possibly be better is if he talked like Nas and released a dis track on Tru Warier Records. All of us have shared stories, without a hint of modesty or shame, about getting choked up while watching Knicks games. Lin has reignited the possibility of ChiNkBaLLa88 and the Mental Oriental — a pluralistic, autonomous minority who, without apology, represents a life spent stuck between expectations.

Maybe it’s not fair to Jeremy Lin, and it’s certainly too much to heap onto a young man whose saga through the NBA has just reached its 10th game. But regardless of what the polite rules of our post-racial society might say about conflating athletes into symbols or talking too much about race, Jeremy Lin-as-symbol-for-his-people has already arrived.


Of all the news that has come out about Lin’s former life — and there hasn’t been much — none excited me as much as a screenshot from his Xanga. In a series of captioned photos, a 15-year-old Lin wears a headband in the style of different NBA stars. It’s a funny, endearing look into Lin’s childhood and hints at a sense of humor that has mostly been absent from his media obligations. But none of the photos or the captions is as telling as the Xanga account’s name: ChiNkBaLLa88.

questions i have:

  • when does something become “racist” or “offensive”?
  • do i need to start fighting back and being more willing to “call out” things that are seemingly racist?
  • does this just go to show how race is still a serious issue?
  • aren’t people who bring jeremy lin’s race into the picture in a positive way just as racist as those who bring jeremy lin’s race into the picture in a negative way? (within reason, fine)

in general, ever since junior year of staffing in toyon, i have both become much more interested in race issues (after reading “why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria”) and had my offensiveness threshold dialed up significantly.

Hulu: Linsanity Postgame – pretty hilarious.  and touches on the double standard of asian american racism vs. african american racism.

2) china’s international relations and jeremy lin.  Economist: China’s new sports problem; Stop the Linsanity

race/racism gets most of the non-sports related press surrounding jeremy lin.  i found this piece really fresh and different and interesting. 

Mr Lin has quickly amassed a huge following among Chinese basketball fans (and this country does love basketball). This poses a bit of a conundrum for Chinese authorities for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that Mr Lin is an American who is proudly of Taiwanese descent, which would seem to complicate China’s efforts to claim him (and oh how they have tried already—on which, more below).

What of Mr Lin’s faith? If by chance Mr Lin were to have gained entry into the sport system, he would not have emerged a Christian, at least not openly so. China has tens of millions of Christians, and officially tolerates Christianity; but the Communist Party bars religion from its membership and institutions, and religion has no place in its sport model. One does not see Chinese athletes thanking God for their gifts; their coach and Communist Party leaders, yes, but Jesus Christ the Saviour? No.

Mr Lin’s Taiwanese family background seems to pose a special problem. China Central Television (CCTV), the national monopoly that broadcasts NBA games, has not joined in Linsanity. A game featuring Mr Lin a week ago, against the Minnesota Timberwolves, was broadcast on Beijing TV’s sport channel, but the broadcast included the forbidden image of the Taiwanese national flag, held proudly by fans in the stands. (The flag is typically blurred in China if it must appear in news footage). Chinese netizens noticed, and wondered if that would bring a punishment, or a tape delay. CCTV, for its part, told Netease, a Chinese internet portal, that most Knicks games couldn’t be shown due to the “time difference”, “but if time allows, games of the Knicks will definitely be broadcasted preferentially.”

That remains to be seen. Fortunately for Chinese sport fans, the internet provides a ready-made alternative to the state television system. Most of Mr Lin’s games are being made available by live stream on the portal This morning’s game against Mr Yi’s Mavericks was a rather interesting exception, a mysterious little black hole on’s NBA schedule. Frustrated Chinese fans had to go looking for dodgier streams elsewhere online. What they found was a closely fought game between the two teams, with Mr Lin again starring and leading the Knicks to victory. More poignantly, they found their countryman, Mr Yi, remain on the bench for the entire game, reduced to the role of spectator. It was a glimpse of the Chinese sport system versus American soft power. Perhaps it was not fit for viewing.

awesome zinger of a finish. 

3) not actually related to jeremy lin.  Piefolk: Advice (via dave)

Hey Pie Guy,

My name is Kevin, and I wanted to write to you for a while now.  I’m having a problem and I wanted some advice – or maybe I just need to tell someone about it.

I feel ugly all the time.  I’m not sure why this should be – I go to the gym a lot and in the past few years I’ve managed to carve out a pretty decent looking body.  I have nice arms and some semblance of abs, even.  But, I can’t seem to get guys my age to look at me, or hit on me.

I should say that I’m 24 years old and Chinese American.  That shouldn’t make a difference, but it certainly does – at least where I live in Atlanta.  When I go out to gay bars, the only people that hit on me are creepy guys that are 15-20 years older than me.  I want to sleep with guys my own age, but they don’t look at me when I go out, and if I talk to them at the bar they seem mortified, or annoyed somehow.

I’ve had guys my own age even say ugly, racist things to me.  This cute, fratty looking guy was really drunk one night and when I went up to him to say hi, he sneered and said something to the effect of ‘me no want sucky sucky long time.’  I left immediately.  I’d never had someone call out my Asian identity like that in such a brutal, cruel way.  I left feeling inadequate and ashamed of myself.

I tried asking out another guy that I thought was cute.  He told me I was very attractive, but he was a bottom only.  I said that’s okay cause I’m versatile and he laughed.  I was confused.  Then he said that he didn’t think he could let an Asian guy top him.

I just don’t get it.  My penis is above average.  I’m a pretty attractive guy.  I take care of my body and it shows.  Why can’t I get people my own age to look at me as a viable sex partner?  Sometimes when I go out I get horny or drunk enough to go home with a guy who’s 40ish – but then I always go home feeling worse about myself than when I started.

I’m beginning to feel alienated and depressed.  I don’t know what to do.

Thanks for reading this letter – I feel better just verbalizing these feelings.  You don’t have to answer, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.


heartbreaking.  hit home, obviously.  anyway, presented without commentary.

4) on a more lighthearted note, two pieces from my social network:

mom:  watch J. Lin game tonight?
baba subscribed sports channels, but it won’t be effective until Friday.
son:  hahaha
just to see jeremy lin?!
mom:  yes.  he is really good

Jeremy Lin has single-handedly rekindled my parents’ relationship. Haha
–friend facebook update


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