Jeremy Lin is used to having the odds stacked against him. Aside from the fact that his name was never called on draft day and almost every team he has played for has contemplated releasing him at some point, there is the obvious issue of race. There are very few Asian-Americans who have found success in the NBA, and Lin said that has made him somewhat of a target for opponents.
“I’ve always been a target,” he told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. “Everyone looks 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.”
Lin’s contract situation created a ton of buzz at the conclusion of last season. Is he worth the money? The Houston Rockets were willing to pay $25 million over three years for Lin — a contract offer that Carmelo Anthony was not shy in criticizing. J.R. Smith, another one of Lin’s former teammates, said the New York Knicks would be offending their other players if they paid Lin that handsomely.
“I was a little surprised, but I wasn’t shocked,” Lin said of the criticism he received as a free agent. “I honestly feel it’s part of the underlying issue of race in American society … of being an Asian-American. I haven’t figured it out. I haven’t wrapped my head around it. But it’s something I’m thinking about.”
It should be noted that Lin quickly came back to earth when Mike D’Antoni resigned and Mike Woodson took over. Many of his critics may simply be skeptical that his magical run with the Knicks had more to do with D’Antoni’s guard-friendly system than Lin’s skill set. That being said, it would be incredibly naive to say race is not a factor in the criticism he faces.
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