Why Criticisms About Jeremy Lin's Athleticism Miss the Mark

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterOctober 15, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 12:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Houston Rockets take the ball downcourt during the game against the New Orleans Hornets at the Toyota Center on October 12, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Jeremy Lin has struggled in the preseason, and certain New York media types are all over what they take to be a story. Apparently, that Knicks championship road runs through Jeremy Lin underwhelming people in Texas. Who knew they didn't need to hand out all those max contracts?

Here's a collection of quotes from a Mitch Lawrence piece in the New York Daily News, House Organ of the Lin Resentment Industrial Complex (note: As Tom Ziller of SB Nation points out, this is not how anonymous sources should be used):

"So it was hardly ideal circumstances when the ex-Knick made his Houston debut against the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook. even if Lin had two completely healthy knees, that’s a mismatch, going up against one of the NBA’s top athletes."

"But let’s also remember that even before his storybook career in New York effectively ended against the Pistons, he was anything but a premier athlete."

"'More than a problem with his knee, what I saw again from Lin is that he is limited as an athlete,' was how one person with years of NBA experience put it after seeing Lin’s debut."

The bolded emphasis was my addition because this strange use of "athlete" pops out to me like a Magic Eye reveal. Lin's actual basketball flaws are rather obvious. His handle can be shaky, his decision-making can be questionable and his outside shot needs work. He also tends to stop the ball on drives, which leads to awful turnovers.

None of this is to say he's doomed as a promising player or that these problems are unsolvable. These are just his weaknesses.

But guess what isn't a weakness for Jeremy Lin? Athleticism. The third-year guard capably gets to the rim and racks up steals. These are the standard indicators of NBA athleticism for guards, but Lin's physical prowess goes a bit deeper than that.

According to SLAM, Lin tested out as one of the top players for in-game speed, per his Basic Athletic Measurement score. And subjectively, Lin's pretty spry, even after returning from knee surgery. 

I'm afraid, I have to wonder: Would these criticisms be levied against Lin were he not Asian-American? Also, can Lawrence refrain from casual prejudice when anonymously sliming a player who isn't even in the Eastern Conference anymore? It's bad enough that the latter is happening, so perhaps it shouldn't be combined with the former in regards to a former Knick.