As urbandictionary.com defines it, the word baller "originally referred to ball players that made it out of the streets to make millions as a pro ball player, but now is used to describe any thug that is living large."
Although I wouldn't categorize Jeremy Lin as a "thug," nor describe his daily life as "living large," there is no doubt in anybody's mind that Jeremy Lin is a baller. Essentially what Lin did was come from nowhere and transform himself into a star point guard, which is basically what the definition of baller is.
However, "baller" or not, there's a greater issue overshadowing all the Linsanity right now—his race.
If you haven't noticed by now, Jeremy Lin's Asian. And although we claim, as the public consistenly does, that "he's a great ball player and race has nothing to do with it," we surely don't show it.
If you haven't seen it for yourself, you've most likely heard about it— the New York Post headlining "AMASIAN" across the front page for all of America to see. ESPN posting the story "Chink In the Armor" after a Knicks loss. MSG Network airing a fan holding up a poster that read, "The Knicks Good Fortune" with a fortune cookie cracked open to thousands of fans at home. SNL airing a lashing skit on him (even though it was actually pretty funny). The list goes on, not to mention the thousands of racist puns all over Twitter and Facebook.
It wasn't until I watched the SNL skit that I started to really wonder why Jeremy Lin seemed to be the only one getting picked on by the public. I mean, he does have ten other black teammates. And in case anyone hasn't heard it already, Gustavo Ayon has quietly proven to be a solid starting center for the Hornets. Ethnicity: Mexican. No comments? Ok America.
The fact of the matter is that for decades, Asians have always been "that race" that has willingly taken all the harassment. As for Jeremy Lin? At the moment, he's bigger than sports. In a way, Lin has single-handedly (with a bit of over-hyping from the media) opened up the doors for Asian Americans across the country in terms of making it in sports. For years, being the race that couldn't play sports in America's eyes, Lin has proved all naysayers wrong.
Jeremy Lin's college recruiting process was overshadowed by racial profiling, limiting him from his full potential and ultimately limiting the things he could do with basketball. With Jeremy Lin stepping up in the biggest city in the world and proving that he (and his race, possibly) can play, people's heads have turned.
Although there are no guarantees, chances are we will start seeing more Asian American players pour into the basketball scene, regardless of the level. Scouts will not pass on a potential star like Jeremy Lin just because of his appearance. The false claim that "he's a great ball player and race has nothing to do with it" will start to become more of a fact.
The truth is, ten years from now, nobody's going to remember Jeremy Lin as "the guy who scored 38 on Kobe," but rather as "the guy who changed basketball as we know it."