Posted April 06, 2013

Rockets’ Jeremy Lin says race was ‘barrier’ to interest from colleges

Ben Golliver, Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks

By Ben Golliver

Jeremy Lin is 24, a global superstar, a full-time starter for the Rockets, and the recipient of a three-year contract worth more than $25 million last summer. That success on and off the court hasn’t made him forget what life was like when he was a high school senior in 2009, when he opted to play basketball for Harvard after receiving little interest from major college programs near his hometown of Palo Alto, Calif.

In a CBSSports.com preview of an upcoming interview on 60 Minutes, Lin points to his race as a factor in his lack of scholarship offers from major programs.

“I think the obvious thing, in my mind, is that I was Asian-American, which is a whole different issue,” he said. I think that was a barrier.”

Asked why race would be a barrier, as Asian-Americans are fully capable of playing basketball, Lin said: “I mean, it’s a stereotype.”

This isn’t the first time the Taiwanese-American Lin has addressed the issue of race and how it has affected perception of his basketball abilities.

At All-Star Weekend 2012 in Orlando, Lin, who was not drafted out of Harvard and was cut by the Warriors and Rockets before he exploded during the 2011-12 season for the Knicks, said he felt he had an extra chip on his shoulder because of how people looked at him as an Asian basketball player.

“I think [bias] has something to do with it,” Lin said. “I don’t know how much. But I think just being Asian-American, obviously when you look at me, I’m going to have to prove myself more so again and again and again, and some people may not believe it.”

Lin also said he felt his game might be described in certain ways because of his race.

“I know a lot of people say I’m deceptively athletic and deceptively quick, and I’m not sure what’s ‘deceptive.’ But it could be the fact that I’m Asian-American. But I think that’s fine. It’s something that I embrace, and it gives me a chip on my shoulder.”

Lin signed his new deal with the Rockets as a restricted free agent. After it initially seemed as if the Knicks would match all offers, they instead allowed him to leave for Houston.

In a November 2012 interview with Yahoo! Sports, Lin wondered whether people criticized the size of his Rockets contract because of his race and said his high-profile rise only makes his opponents come after him that much harder.

“I was a little surprised, but I wasn’t shocked. 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.”

“I’ve always been a target,” Lin says. “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 is averaging 13.1 points, 6.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals for the Rockets, who are on track to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

26 comments
BlackieChanXXX
BlackieChanXXX

A lot of high school athletes are recruited by their physical size, speed, or agility alone. Without looking at their skills or contributions to the team, they get onto big name college teams simply because they "Look the part" or have "Potential Upside".

Needless to say, Lin didn't get into any major basketball program, because he didn't look the part. 

RespectfullyDisagree
RespectfullyDisagree

I believe Lin is not claiming to be a victim like some people think. Jeremy is too strong and mature to do that. I do think by speaking out he wants to raise public awareness and hopefully change the perception/stereotype of Asians.

Atlas02si
Atlas02si

I like his message.  Overcoming racial stereotyping and name calling, etc. and find alternative routes to NBA.  Work hard and have a bit of luck (divine intervention?).  This is a classic American underdog overcoming adversities story. 

Steve Moore
Steve Moore

Love Lin, but only in America can someone earn a $25mil contract and claim to be a victim. There are hundreds of players on the bubble, thousands over the years who feel they didn't get a fair chance, in every walk of life. Clearly he was good enough, stuck with it and got there when others may have quit, but please america, stop with the 'I'm a victim" mantra - we all have more opportunities than most ever dream of. Harvard? Poor baby. My being short was a 'barrier' that others couldn't get past, my being overweight was a 'barrier', that other guy ran faster was a 'barrier'. Be frickin grateful ya victocrat.

Jafari
Jafari

Without further improvement, Lin is going to be traded in the last third year of his contract, which pays something like 10 million per year in the last two years.  And I think it was structured that way to incentivize Lin for improvements to his game and to give the organization an opportunity to observe him for a couple of years.

help4mac1
help4mac1

Maybe racism isn't the right word but victim of stereotype or discrimination would work.

I don't think Lin is saying people were malicious just ignorant.

donniejohnson4
donniejohnson4

He was an athletic 6-foot-3 point guard who led his high school to a state championship, while being named First Team All-State, as well as Northern California Player of the Year, and he got NO offers from West Coast schools!!!? That's crazy.  I definitely see his point.  Although, you can't exactly blame UCLA, since they already had Darren Collison running the point and Russell Westbrook coming in as his back-up.  Stanford really should have made him an offer. Picture a Freshman class of Lin, Landry Fields, and the Lopez twins.  That would have been devastating.  That group would have captured more than just two tourney appearances and a Sweet 16.  

Mike26
Mike26

Poor guy had to go to HARVARD.  What a sacrifice!

eddiej
eddiej

What does race have to do with no offers.He wasn' good enough to get drafted,he was cut by not 1 but 3 NBA teams.He got that bad contract because he played when ny had nobody good,so he looked great.Houston gave him that $$$ because of his race.

rhymeister
rhymeister

I like Lin but a "superstar"?  People sure do use that term lightly.  Not to say he can't get there....but has some improvement to do.

BlackieChanXXX
BlackieChanXXX

 @Jafari Have you been watching Rockets games? He has improved greatly. He was shooting 28% from 3-point range, now he's shooting over 40% from 3-point range. His turnovers are down, and he's averaging 8 assists a game over 6 apg a month ago.

GSWarriors
GSWarriors

@eddiej i think you don't exactly know what Lin meant. I think that there is that misconception or a stereotype that asian-americans can't be on that elite level as others. Lin is good, no matter what other people say. For crying out loud he destroyed deron williams last season I think, during his remarkable run. He averaged 20 plus i think on that streak. Just like before where european style of basketball were soft and under appreciated. Look at them now, thriving in the NBA. Asians now are now facing the same thing. What he's just saying is that there is that barrier, or sterotype that 'look he's just an asian kid. lets run him up.'

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

 @eddiej The objective fact is that Lin is a starting-caliber NBA point-guard now.   I don't know about him being a 'star' or anything, but he can obviously ball at an NBA level, and ball pretty well.  That's a fact inarguable.

 

SO THAT, ALL BY ITSELF, LENDS WEIGHT TO THE NOTION THAT HIS LACK OF COLLEGE RECRUITMENT AND SHORT SHRIFT FROM NBA TEAMS EARLIER IN HIS CAREER HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH ISSUES OTHER THAN ACTUAL MERIT.  

 

Shouldn't have to explain this to you, chucklehead.  But you're obviously too busy PROVING LIN'S POINT, you friggin' dork.

Aaron44
Aaron44

 @eddiej What does race have to do with anything? We do live in a truly color blind society. Amirite?

EasyGoer
EasyGoer

 @eddiej That first sentence said it all: you, like many I think, have missed the whole point. You also proved his point.

BlackieChanXXX
BlackieChanXXX

 @Aaron44  @Mike26 His dream was to become a pro basketball player, not a economics professor. Harvard is like the Devry Online University of basketball schools, almost completely irrelevant.

eddiej
eddiej

@leehwgoc dork here,haven't you get better at sex the more you did it.Most ppl get better with practice and time,just like Lin.

JamesCa
JamesCa

 @Aaron44  @eddiej A color blind America, LOL. Do you really believe that? Most Western countries i.e. USA/Europe/Australia are racist as heck.

eddiej
eddiej

@EasyGoer To you and everyone else who said I missed his point.By him injecting his race as to why he didn't get an offer from a"Big" school was wrong.He had offers from others(sdsu,ucirving,etc.).S

JackWilliams
JackWilliams

 @EasyGoer  

 Why don't you go try out for the Jamaican toboggan team and prove his point.

eddiej
eddiej

@JamesCa I didn't say a thing about the US being a color blind country,but @Aaron44 was was making a joke about how we treat different races here.Calm down man.

BillPeterson
BillPeterson

 @eddiej  @EasyGoerThe fact that he has accomplishments to his name does not mean there are no prejudices against an Asian basketball player. 

EasyGoer
EasyGoer

 @eddiej I believe he was saying that he got brushed off a lot because he was Asian. He had to continuously prove to people he could play.