Twenty years later, I’m watching Knicks games again for the newest star on the hardwood floor because, like the rest of America (and probably most of Asia), I’m totally charmed by Jeremy Lin’s story.
Why does so much of the world have a crush on Lin? Setting aside the whole “Asian thing” for a minute, here’re the top three reasons:
We’ve all been benched at least once in our lives when we were sure that if given just one more chance, we could have pulled out that sixth gear and shocked the whole world as we took down Kobe! And now we have proof that we were right.
Plus, just about every mother and father in this country hopes their son or daughter might work hard enough to get into Harvard and be able to play the game they love while there. In this ideal scenario, upon graduation, our children are free to try their hand at a dream job, secure in the knowledge that an Ivy League education is there just in case. Jeremy Lin shows us that we can believe both in education and letting our kids follow their dreams in earnest because we all want to envision our kids off the bench, on the court and making headlines.
And look, we’re all late bloomers at something. Lin’s triumph lets us believe that not only is our time just around the corner, but that it’s totally worth the wait because when it comes, we’ll change the way the whole world sees us.
Which brings us to back that whole “Asian thing.”
To be an American is to believe in and root for the underdog. We founded our country on the belief that any citizen can move up to the 1 percent through sheer tenacity. And let’s face it: An Ivy League-educated Chinese-American is the quintessential underdog in professional basketball.
But this isn’t the only one reason for our collective crush on Jeremy Lin, for he has broken the mold well beyond basketball.
When I, the leading lady in my own American love story, imagine Prince Charming walking toward me to love me/save me/dance with me/marry me, he’s always at least 6 feet tall. He has ripped shoulders and kick-ass sneakers. He is able to hang on a street corner with rough guys as easily as he can dine with white-collar intellectuals. And while we’re at it, he is charming, humble and respectful to my parents, even though he makes more money than they do.
And that right there sums up Jeremy Lin, right?
Because Lin looks different from many Americans’ traditional image of a national hero, every man regardless of what sets him apart from Cary Grant or Brad Pitt or whoever the flavor of a particular decade is can be the leading man in any story. Lin also allows every woman to see the person she’s set sights on as a hero of her own. Therefore, No. 4 at Harvard and No. 17 in New York has not only advanced Asian-Americans a little further out of the box that America has been holding them in, he has advanced America’s idea of itself, too. I know I never imagined an Asian-American man would sweep me off my feet.
Until one did.
My 6- foot-plus, 180-pound former football-playing husband also attended a prestigious university. He also has more sneakers than any man or woman I’ve ever met. He often wears them with suit jackets and he works crazy hours because he blew off his post-graduate degree to work in hip-hop music.
Every once in awhile, he still takes my breath away when I see him coming down the hardwood floor of our home. My husband was a late bloomer at many things, which he will tell you paid off tenfold.
And as the leading lady of our love story, I’m so glad my son has him and now Jeremy Lin to look up to.
(Diane Farr is an actress and author. Her second book, “Kissing Outside The Lines,” is a comic look at interracial marriage in America and available at http://amzn.to/kisslines. You can find all her writing at www.GetDianeFarr.com, or follow her at www.twitter.com/getdianefarr or www.facebook/getdianefarr.)
COPYRIGHT © 2012 DIANE FARR
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