Or at least, if you had watched the ABC broadcast of the game, you might be forgiven for believing so. It’s been a long time since I’ve witnessed a more ridiculously effusive fawning over a player and a team that has yet to win anything except barely as many regular season games as they’ve lost. Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics has arguably played better than any point guard in the league over the last month, but Rondo is an old story. He plays on a team that regularly wins, if not so much this year. Lin plays for the New York Knicks, which don’t.
Wouldn’t it be great for broadcasters everywhere if the New York sports franchises could win every time? Eight million fanatical supporters made happy to buy the wares being hawked by the sponsors. Besides, New York should win every time. After all it is the center of the American universe, no?
I don’t think there were anything but Asians in Madison Square Garden today. Well, except for every celebrity New York could muster. Every time Jeremy Lin did something good, bad or indifferent–dribble the ball successfully; make a pass; commit a turnover; hustle up the floor to play defense; scratch behind his ears, etc.,–the cameras panned the audience to find a hysterical Asian cheering Lin on. Or at least did when the network wasn’t cutting away to show a group of Asians (presumably Chinese) in Chinatown gathered around a television cheering Lin on. It looked like a Maoist collective gathered around a radio listening to a speech.
Don’t get me wrong. Lin played well today. He had a good day shooting and assisting. But then, that’s pretty much what point guards in the NBA are supposed to do. After a time, the fact his talents were previously unrecognized will be old news.
In the meantime, the broadcast was quite remarkable in how brazenly it played up the inherently racial nature of Linsanity. Even blacks couldn’t get away with such blatant racial bigotry, at least not in support of a basketball player; presidential candidates, yes, but it wouldn’t work in basketball anyway. The vast majority of players on the floor are black. But neither could a white person get away supporting a white player because he’s white. Apparently with basketball and Asians, things are different racially. Sort of like blacks and national politics. Whites never get to harbor a racial sentiment–ever–though they are always assumed to harbor racial sentiments even when they don’t express them.
Alas, Linsanity will fade. It may be hard for Mike Tirico to imagine, but there are other NBA teams that matter than just the New York Knicks. The win streak had already ended Friday night at the Garden against New Orleans. Yeah, New Orleans. I wonder when it’s over, if all these Linsane people will regret how foolishly they got sucked into the mania. I’d say its doubtful, else they would have been wise enough to realize the foolishness from the start.
(Update: I just stumbled across the story that ESPN fired some poor schmuck in its headline writing department for posting a teaser headline after the New Orleans loss, “A Chink in the Armor”. So now, do we have another word and sentiment that can never be expressed (except perhaps among those to whom it applies)? It’s okay for Asian-American breasts to swell with racial pride at the athletic prowess of one of its own, but there can never be any acknowledgment by others of what is going on? See what a mess is made of things when considerations of race become paramount? And in the one bastion, sports, that has managed to get past racialism (at least outside of that nationalistic/racial orgy that is the Olympic games).