There has been a lot of talk about Jeremy Lin recently and deservedly so. He has made the transition from an "affirmative action" hire into a real contributor. But why are we so captivated by number 17?
Here are three reasons why we want to see what happens next in the life of Jeremy Lin:
He's the Chinese Jackie Robinson
Lin has regularly heard bigoted jeers at games such as "Wonton soup", "Sweet and sour pork", "Open your eyes!", "Go back to China", "Orchestra is on the other side of campus", or pseudo-Chinese gibberish. (Wikipedia, Jeremy Lin - Racial Issues)This reminded me of a book report I did on Jackie Robinson when I was in elementary school. What made Jackie's story so compelling was his ability to overcome racism in America to become respected in his sport. He wasn't imported like other Chinese players. The reason why it is easy for us to root for Jeremy is we can all relate to being "held down" and having to persevere until we triumph. Jeremy's story like Jackie's is a story of hope for all who have experienced some type of oppression for who we are.
He's Not "Special"
Jeremy Lin, unlike other Chinese players in the NBA (Yao Ming, Wang ZhiZhi, Yi Jianlian, etc), is 6' 3" and 200 lbs, which is not rare to find in the United States. He's not unusually tall, freakishly strong or unbelievingly fast. Some may even argue that he has an ugly shot and this is what makes his story so interesting because you HAVE TO attribute his success to skill. You can't even say it's luck because he has been putting up good numbers in all his starts as a Knick which leads to my last reason.
He's Helping the Team Win
Knicks fans probably appreciate this the most since we haven't had much since the Patrick Ewing era. Not sure when the last time the Knicks had a winning streak but Jeremy Lin is definitely making Knicks basketball more exciting to watch. I wouldn't be surprised if the ratings have been going up ever since Jeremy became a starter.
No matter what happens, I think Jeremy has proven that Chinese basketball players can hang with the best. Only time can tell if this is the beginning of something truly special.