Jeremy Lin continues to defy NBA conventions. He's of Asian ancestry in a profession that doesn't have many phenotypically Asian people. He played college basketball at a school that is associated more with brains than braun. Amidst the NBA lockout, Lin continues to be an NBA anomaly. With NBA stars and subs considering international opportunities and paychecks, Jeremy Lin wants to stay state-side. In an era when players are clamoring to play to a larger, now global market of NBA hoops, why does Lin continue to buck the trend?
Kevin Durant, Shane Battier, Deron Williams, and Sonny Weems are just a few of the diverse range of NBA players who have talked about, if not secured, gigs in other national arenas. Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area, however, reports that Jeremy Lin, as of right now, wants no part of it. Steinmetz quotes Lin's agent Roger Montgomery:
"The No. 1 thing for Jeremy is to establish himself as an NBA player," said Roger Montgomery, Lin's agent, on Tuesday. "We've never talked about making this or making that in terms of money, which he could do in Asia. Jeremy wants to be an NBA player."
Does playing overseas make you "less" of an NBA player? From what Montgomery says, it sure seems like it. Many NBA hopefuls took international routes to get to the NBA. In fact, a good handful of players began their careers in the NBA, went overseas, then returned with more refined games and with relatively lucrative contracts awaiting (see Anthony Parker). Of course, playing overseas doesn't automatically guarantee an NBA contract down the line. But Lin and his team have been against playing overseas right now and continue to say so.
The Taiwan National Basketball Team, allegedly, has offered Lin an opportunity to tryout for the team, but Lin has said that this is something that is not currently on his radar. While Lin is of Taiwanese heritage, it seems that he is deliberately distancing himself these opportunities in Chinese countries. I'm not suggesting he is a "self-hating Asian" (which is something someone called me once for critiquing Lin's game last season). We could argue that Lin, born and raised in the United States and racially classified as an "Asian American," has no cultural connection to his parents home country.
But the same could be said for Chris Kaman, right? Kaman, an American citizen or 4th generation German American, now holds dual citizenship (United States and Germany) and represents Germany in the Olympics alongside superstar Dirk Nowitzki. Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford, born in the Dominican Republic, and Sacramento Kings' Francisco Garcia also played for the Dominican Republic's national team in a qualifying tournament. It's not unusual for NBA players whose roots are both close and distant to these home countries to want to play in the Olympics and to play among the best of the best no matter the circumstance.
So why not Jeremy Lin? Based on the small sample size of non-NBA stars playing for other countries in the Olympics, their participation doesn't necessarily mean they're any less of an NBA player. Perhaps Lin wants to prove that he's NBA material and dedicated to it given how he's had so many doubters along the way. Perhaps his rough play this first season, where his biggest fans also became some of his doubters, means Lin wants to focus entirely on being able to compete in the NBA before taking on the world. For that, I can understand.
With much of the NBA looking overseas, however, it still seems a bit strange to me that Lin isn't even thinking about other opportunities. What do you think it is? And if you were Lin, would you tryout for the Taiwan National Team?