There will be many excuses given for why the New York Knicks didn’t re-sign Jeremy Lin.
They can blame it on the size of the offer sheet from the Houston Rockets. They can say that last season’s “Linsanity” was a result of good fortune playing for Mike D’Antoni. They can say he was just a flash in the pan, an anomaly.
But the reason the Knicks didn’t sign Jeremy Lin, at least in part, is likely because of his race.
No one would ever admit to it, and it’s a discussion nobody wants to have, but his ethnicity must be examined as part of why he wasn’t re-signed.
Lin gave the Knicks every reason in the world to be re-signed, even with the large salary in the third year of the contract. There hasn’t been a sensation like Lin in the NBA ever before. He was a one-of-a-kind phenomenon.
And he was good.
He scored 38 points in one game, had 25 points and 10 assists in another. He made game-winning shots. He guided them to a healthy winning streak when it was least expected. He breathed life into the Big Apple franchise.
And after the initial sensation and outlandish statistics died down a bit, Lin proved more than worthy of a significant three-year investment for a young point guard.
As Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports explained, “Lin averaged 16 points, 7.4 assists and 2.1 steals in his final 20 starts — and while those figures don’t make him a candidate for MVP, they do make him a very good NBA point guard.”
They certainly make him a wiser investment than the ancient Jason Kidd and the mediocre, older Raymond Felton.
But Lin’s payback from the franchise was doubt regarding his talent, doubt about his ability to rehabilitate from injury, and doubt about his heritage being able to ball for real.
This story can be twisted by the Knicks’ organization to say many things…but the truth: Asian-Americans still don’t get respect as athletes in the U.S.
Asian-Americans are still greatly stereotyped. Possibly, it is the ethnic group most stereotyped.
And playing skillful basketball has, unfortunately, not been a stereotype associated with Asian-Americans.
Pretty much everybody knows this is how the stereotype has gone. But Lin proved everybody wrong. He is a baller, even a dunker, as he did in one of his starts last season.
Now, the bias is that Lin is not capable of continuing to play at a high level and keep the “Linning” going.
Call it what it is: when it comes to how Lin’s departure was handled, money was a factor…but so, probably, was prejudice.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor for AmericanizeSoccer.com