90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

NBA ‘Linsanity’ Gives Asian-Americans A ‘Jackie Robinson-Like Moment’

Fans cheer for New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday in Washington. (AP)

“Linsanity” returns to the NBA Tuesday night when Jeremy Lin and his fellow New York Knicks travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors.

New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin. (AP)

If you missed it, the 23-year-old Asian-American Lin came off the bench and out of nowhere to begin a hot streak that has made him a sensation.

In his record-setting spree, Lin has averaged almost 27 points and 8 assists in his last five games and he’s now the Knicks leading scorer, playmaker and spiritual leader, taking the struggling team on a five-game winning streak.

And his jersey, No. 17, is the NBA’s top seller. Steven Colbert even said that he’s come down with a “raging case of ‘Linsanity.’”

A ‘Jackie Robinson Moment’ For Asian-Americans

New York Times reporter Michael Luo has a lot in common with the 6-foot-3 inch point guard. Both are second generation Asian-Americans, both are Harvard graduates and both are Christians.

Luo writes that as an Asian-American, watching Lin’s streak is like a Jackie Robinson moment:

For me, as an Asian-American, the chants of “M.V.P.!” raining down on Lin at the Garden embody a surreal, Jackie Robinson-like moment. Just as meaningful to me as a Christian, however, is the way the broadcasters have hailed Lin as not just the “Harvard hero” but the “humble Harvard grad.” His teammates appear just as overjoyed at his success as he was. Both seem to be testaments to his character.


  • Michael Luo, New York Times investigative reporter

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Seraphaeme

    Very cool! Thanks for the story. 
    Positive news like this is very heart-warming in our dreary February freeze.

  • PT

    How come we don’t celebrate Hedo Turkoglu as an Asian-American standout? Is this the best terminology we can manage?

  • Anonymous

    Why the focus on his Christianity?  If he were Mormon, would it be mentioned?  If he were an agnostic would it be mentioned?  Give me a break.  I really don’t want each and every Christian pointed out to me – “Look, there’s one.  Look, there’s another one.”  They are not that rare and their beliefs have nothing to do with their performance – nor their humility.  Non Christians can be just a humble as Christians.

    • Dela1974

      Lin wants to be identified as such. His faith is a priority. Why does his devotion bother you so?

  • Bob Nelson

    I believe it to be correct that Lin was over looked because he is Asian.  However, there are many young people, all genders and races, who are over looked because they physically, emtionally, and psychologically mature at different rates.  I recall my own experience:  In high school I tried out for every sport and made none.  I left high school, joined the Air Force and on leaving the Air Force went to college.  There I tried out for crew (rowing) on a whim and earned 2 varsity letters.  What changed?  I grew from 5′ 3″ to 6′ 3″ and from 110 lbs to 180 lbs and an assistant crew coach was looking for atheltes and asked me to try out.  I’ve seen many other examples over my life time. 

    I also believe that we as a culture are focusing too much on getting children to specialize in a given sport too soon.  One of my sons showed an early talent in baseball.  My wife insisted that he learn a sport that he could carry throughout his life.  He is now in his forty’s and has been a cross country bicyclist for 30+ years.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 11 7 Comments

Doctor: 9/11 Responders’ Illnesses Becoming Worse

A World Trade Center Health Program medical provider says chronic illnesses affecting first responders are lingering and becoming worse.

September 11 Comment

Dennis Lehane Takes ‘The Drop’ From Screen To Page

Author Dennis Lehane discusses adapting a screenplay into a novel.

September 10 2 Comments

‘We Expect You Back’: A Friend’s Poem For James Foley

Poet Daniel Johnson had named the slain journalist James Foley as his son's godfather. Johnson remembers his friend in a recently published poem.

September 10 3 Comments

9/11 First Responder: ‘Invisible Diseases’ Are Killing Us

9/11 first responder John Feal says many others like him suffer from chronic physical and emotional diseases. His organization, the FealGood Foundation, works to get them compensation.