Jeremy Lin Says 'It Kind of Sucks' Being the Only Asian American in the NBA

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2019

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 13:  New signing Jeremy Lin #17 of the Toronto Raptors looks on prior to an NBA game against the Washington Wizards at Scotiabank Arena on February 13, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.  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 Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Toronto Raptors guard Jeremy Lin hopes to one day see more Asian American players in the NBA

In an interview with Cary Chow of The Undefeated, Lin talked about the dichotomy of being the only active player of Asian descent in the league:

"At times it kind of sucks. At other times it’s amazing. Amazing because you get to challenge everyone’s viewpoints and perspectives. I’m rooting for so many more Asians to come in. Last year, when I was with Brooklyn and we had Ding [Yanyuhang] on the summer league team, I was like, 'Dude, please make the team. We’d have so much fun together during the season.'"

Upon making his NBA debut in 2010 with the Golden State Warriors, Lin became the first Asian-American player since Rex Walters. 

Walters, whose mother is Japanese, played for three teams in seven seasons from 1993-2000. He said in a 2011 interview with Rick Quan that Lin was continuing to create opportunities for more Asian-American athletes.

"I consider myself Japanese American. I just don't always—I don't look it. People are always surprised. Now we've got a guy like Jeremy Lin breaking barriers, I'd like to think I played a small part in that."

Lin noted in his interview that his experience in the NBA has been an eye-opening experience:

"When I was growing up playing basketball, I didn’t see much color. I didn’t really think it made a difference. After I went through Linsanity, I learned the world wasn’t quite ready or didn’t know how to handle Asian-Americans, Asian-Americans in sports, Asian-American masculinity and a lot of different Asian-American issues."

Lin became the first NBA player to come out of Harvard since Ed Smith in 1953-54. The 30-year-old is now in his ninth season after going undrafted out of college. At the height of "Linsanity" during the 2011-12 season, New York Knicks games in Taiwan—where his family emigrated fromregularly generated 3 million viewers on television. 

Lin now plays for the Raptors after being bought out by the Atlanta Hawks. He's averaging 10.7 points and 3.5 assists in 53 games this season. 


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