Saturday, July 21, 2012

Was There a Jeremy Lin Asian-American--New York Knicks Thing?

I was shocked when New York Knick Carmelo Anthony called the contract offer Jeremy Lin received as ridiculous.  I don't think I have ever heard before, certainly not a teammate in any major sport, claim that a player was getting a ridiculously high contract.

Devin Gordon has an interesting take on what might have been going down:
The New York Knicks letting Jeremy Lin walk out the door—for nothing—was the dumbest decision in the history of professional sports.

But let's forget about that for a moment. The words "dumb" and "Knicks" are so interchangeable at this point that the notion of the franchise choosing an option with a $15 million downside (the excess luxury tax the team faced if it matched Houston's offer) over an option with a billion dollar downside (Lin's potential career marketing value if he kept up his level of play) is actually unsurprising. This is the Knicks. This is what they do. Let's move on. Let's have the other conversation, the one nobody seems to want to have because "dumb" seems to explain it all. No, dumb explains 98 percent of it. Let's talk about the other 2 percent.

The moment I knew for certain that the Knicks were done with Jeremy Lin was on Sunday, July 15, when Carmelo Anthony publicly called Lin's offer from the Houston Rockets "ridiculous." At that point, the Knicks were still saying their minds weren't made up, and maybe that was true—maybe they were only 99 percent sure. Even still, Melo's remark was like an X-ray of his psyche, and, because Melo is the only person other than owner Jim Dolan who really matters in the Knicks organization, it was a glimpse into what the entire franchise thinks about Lin.

What's relevant here is not whether Melo was right or not about Lin's contract. Plenty of NBA players surely agree with him. What's relevant is that he said it out loud. Bad-mouthing another player's deal is a serious breach of the unwritten code among pro athletes, which is why it happens so rarely, no matter how many stupid deals get handed out, no matter how many franchises are crippled by bad contracts, no matter how many superstars find their paths to a title blocked by the bonehead decisions of their teams' front offices. It's also why, conversely, players almost always praise each others' deals in public, and offer congratulations – we've all seen the tweets – for getting every penny that the market could generate. It's a fraternity.

Apparently, to Melo, Jeremy Lin is not in the fraternity. Or at least, Lin's place in it is dubious enough that he has not earned the omerta that every other player gets. Anybody wanna try to convince me it has zero to do with Lin being Asian-American? Because, and let's cut to the quick, Carmelo Anthony never ever would've made that remark about a black NBA player's contract, and I doubt that he ever would've said it about a white player's, either.
Read the rest here.

(ht Tyler Cowen)


  1. I agree with much of this article, and find parts of it insightful (and not found elsewhere).

    " option with a billion dollar downside (Lin's potential career marketing value if he kept up his level of play) is actually unsurprising. This is the Knicks."

    My one exception is based on this quote. Lin is a billion dollar opportunity based on his attraction in China. The marketing opportunity is there, but the Knicks will enjoy just as much of it with Lin at Houston as they would with Lin in New York. All international revenue for the NBA - including all uniform purchases made at the NBA store - are divided equally amount all teams in the league.

    There may be some residual benefits to the specific team involved, however I don't recall reading any stories that extolled the financial gain of Yao Ming specifically to the Houston Rockets.

  2. Personally, I don't think the author should be "speculating" that Carmelo Anthony is a racist, and that's why he called Lin's contract ridiculous. I think Lin's race may very well have something to do with it, but that's quite an accusation to make in a national publication without any proof.

    Is Larry Brown racist because he thinks Lin is a very good backup?

    1. I think Wentzel has made the most obvious call regarding the NY Knicks as an organization that personifies the ignorance and bigotry of the Black soul! Of course they resent a non-black that proves one does not have to be black to suceed in Pro BB, the same is true of pro FB.