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Does Jeremy Lin Get Treated Unfairly Because Of His Race?

Submitted by on November 16, 2012 – 2:26 pmOne Comment

Jeremy Lin isn’t going to sneak up on anyone this season. Last season, when he went from being the 12th or 13th man on the New York Knicks‘ bench to the talk of the town, he did it by coming out of nowhere. In a matter of just a few days, he literally went from a zero to a hero and did so, at least partly, because no one knew anything about him. Before the Knicks took on the Los Angeles Lakers in a game, Kobe Bryant was actually asked about Lin and had to admit that he didn’t know much about him. Still, what Lin did was truly incredible.

This year, Lin is suiting up for the Houston Rockets and things are much different. He’s struggling to fit into the Rockets system at the moment and not putting up the points or assists that you might expect a guy who signed a huge three-year, $25 million contract to put up. Part of the problem is that he’s still figuring out exactly where he fits in. But, another part of it is that he’s been talked about so much over the course of the last six months that other players are targeting him and making sure that they don’t end up on the wrong side of a Jeremy Lin highlight. And, Lin thinks he knows why that  is. It’s because of something that started happening at the end of the last season.

“I’ve always been a target,” he told Yahoo! Sports recently. “Everyone looks at me and says, ‘I’m not going to let that Asian kid embarrass me. I’m going to go at him.’ That’s how it’s been my whole life. This has been different, though. Now, I was on the scouting report. People started to pay attention to what I could and couldn’t do. But, a target? I was used to that. I’m not saying I get everyone’s best shot, but I would say people don’t want to be embarrassed by me because of my skin color.”

Is that really why other players are going at him, though? Is it simply because they don’t want to get shown up by the “Asian kid” on the court? Yes…and no. I’m sure that race does play a part in the treatment Lin receives from other players. There aren’t any other Asian point guards playing in the NBA right now, so ESPN and other sports outlets are going to make a big deal about Lin crossing somebody over or hitting a jump shot over another player. But, at the same time, Lin is also treated the way he’s treated simply because he’s gotten so much hype while other guys haven’t. So, they want to use Lin’s popularity to make a name for themselves, and they want to avoid helping him to make his name any bigger than it already is.

Ultimately, Lin is probably going to have trouble ever making as much noise as he did in New York last season. He isn’t going to sneak up on anybody now or anytime in the future, so people aren’t going to be surprised if he has a good game or does something crazy. But, for better or worse, his race is going to continue to affect the way that fellow players, NBA coaches, and fans view him. It’s something he acknowledges but also something that still remains a bit confusing to him.

“I haven’t wrapped my head around it,” he told Yahoo! Sports. “But, it’s something I’m thinking about it.”

Hopefully, he’ll able to make sense of it all one day. Because, as long as he’s the only Asian point guard in the NBA, he’s going to continue to get treated differently because of it. And, we sincerely hope it doesn’t affect his game moving forward.

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