Baffoe: Sorry, Jeremy Lin, But I Have To Root Against You

By Tim Baffoe-

(CBS) “Linsanity” is here, and it needs to go away right damn quick. I cannot stand any more Tebowish wall-to-wall coverage of one guy who seems like a good person but in the grand scheme has yet to accomplish anything.

I’m done with America’s obsession with quirkiness over talent.

Jeremy Lin plays basketball for the New York Knicks. He seems to be pretty good at that. Lin has also made it known that he is a devout Christian. He is a Harvard graduate. He also happens to be Asian-American.

With Tim Tebow not taking the field for another six months, the perfect story has fallen into the laps of pandering media members and the gullible throng of sports fans ready to lap up everything and anything that combines sports with the saccharin superfluous. For those of us who can divorce a game from real life and don’t need fluffy Disney garbage riding sidecar to our entertainment, it is also the perfect storm of migraine-inducing newsertainment that we will be force fed until the summer and perhaps longer.

Being the first American-born player of Chinese descent in the NBA is newsworthy, don’t get me wrong. So is being the first Harvard Crimson on a roster in almost 60 years. Those are the “Oh, wow, that’s kind of cool” tidbits that will eventually be on Jeopardy! and make Lin a gift to Will Shortz and other crossword puzzle editors.

I enjoy sports kitsch, sometimes too much. There is a custom-made Brian Scalabrine Bulls jersey that hangs in that “I just cannot throw it out” section of my closet. I only wore the jersey once. For Halloween in 2010. I do not intend to wear it again. That is because novelty does not become superiority for me. Sadly, too many sports fans blur the line there if not completely erase it.

Jeremy Lin has a strong religious faith and he is not shy about discussing it. He said in a 2010 interview with while still a Harvard student, “My faith and my basketball began separately, then slowly converged, and now they influence each other.” Normally I would have no problem with that. Usually no one’s religious beliefs other than my own concern me so long as those beliefs are not hurting other people. And Lin has yet to appear to be someone who initiates the religion topic when miked up as Tim Tebow does.

But for some reason it has become in vogue to spotlight certain athletes and their faiths arbitrarily. At least 90% of professional athletes are Christian, I’m guessing, but only a few have their religious beliefs focussed on as inherent to analysis of them. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s faith was only a story when he chose to make it so with the National Anthem controversy. Hakeem Olajuwon was rarely talked about as “a Muslim who played basketball,” and he is one of the best centers in NBA history. Yet Lin will be discussed as a Christian who plays pro basketball a la Tebow, and ad nauseum.

Those who gravitate toward such stories are going to do so regardless because not being able to separate entertainment from that which should not change the viewing experience (like an athlete’s marital transgressions or criminal background) is completely beyond their understanding. What bothers me, though, as I saw heavily on social media all week, is that many who decried Tebowmania are jumping headfirst into Linsanity.
That’s hypocrisy, folks, and you are not allowed to have it both ways. Please tell me what more than Tebow has Jeremy Lin done? Lin’s box scores might look a bit more impressive than Tebow’s, but neither has accomplished anything of substance professionally. At the moment, Lin’s story should be a “well, hey, would ya look at that” footnote until further notice.

Compounding that is Lin’s being Chinese which, despite the fact that I think even the Amish in this country have met a person of Asian descent, has caused people to be in awe of this exotic new thing. “I didn’t know they could do that!” Yes, it is completely possible for a Chinese American to put a basketball into a hoop at a high level.

And from that awe is born the inevitable racist talk and uncreative, unfunny stereotypes. Take Andrew Goldstein, for example. He is the Senior Producer on VH1’s “Morning Buzz Live,” which I’ve never seen but I will assume is sheep-rapingly awful, and he’s a self-described “jokemaker,” per his Twitter profile. Here are four consecutive tweets by Goldstein from Saturday morning following Lin’s 38 point output in a win over the Lakers:

“Must be weird for a Chinese basketball player to play in an arena called MSG #linsanity”; “As a Sixers fan living in NYC my feelings about Jeremy Lin are sweet n’ sour. #linsanity”; “The Knicks Szech-won last night, right? #linsanity”; “Its amazing how well D’antoni’s system works when he has a point guard who can Hunan-dle the rock. #linsanity”

See what he did there? Because Lin is Chinese. And he is therefore inseparable from Chinese food. Goldstein should be writing for Jay Leno in no time!

And Goldstein is a professional writer. I’ll spare you the painfully bad attempts at humor from the unpaid masses that are out there. But even the big fish got in on the action. Maybe by now you have heard about Jason Whitlock’s tweet from Friday night—“Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.” Lots of people are angry about that, calling it incredibly racist and demanding Whitlock be fired (and creating more traffic for him, ironically). My problem with it is that it isn’t funny.

I would be lying if I said I have never made a joke regarding race. I’ve made thousands, and I’ve made them about every race, ethnicity, and superficial aspect of humanity and culture you can name—even Jeremy Lin. Friday night I tweeted “To stop #Linsanity the #Lakers just signed Kurt Russell.”

What I do not do, though, is be malicious or egregious with my jokes. I don’t use epithets. I don’t cross that delicate comedic line between good- and mean-spirited. I also try to be—wait for it—creative. There is a difference between what I typed and what Goldstein and Whitlock typed, and if you cannot see that, I cannot help you.

As Whitlock assumed something anatomically about Lin based on race, I’ll assume that because Whitlock is African American that he is aware of Chris Rock saying, “Talk about what people do, not what they are.” There is a difference between a racial joke and a racist joke.

But the bad jokes—racist, unfunny, and otherwise—will continue as long as Lin is relevant, unfortunately for him and for my eyes and ears as someone who appreciates well-constructed comedy. As will other inflated fan and media stupidity, such as the MVP chants that have been going on at Madison Square Garden for a guy who needed 23-plus points in each of his last four games to average 11 for the 26 games this season and major news outlets fanning the ignorant flames.

ESPN certainly has its new baby, and it will do everything it can do convince consumers that Lin deserves juxtaposition with Stockton, Isiah, and Magic. Maybe you, like me, hate that Facebook friend incessantly clogging your homepage with baby pictures and exalting the miracle of birth for the 108 billionth time. Well, ESPN is like that on crack (want to bet Skip Bayless is on air at some point in a replica Tang Dynasty robe?). And like that Facebook friend, ESPN likes to make you feel like you should appreciate this person that has yet to accomplish anything special whatsoever other than merely existing, and you are certainly crazy if you don’t.

Hence my desire for Lin’s irrelevancy. And I wish it were not so, as I haven’t even had a chance to decide whether I like the guy or not. See, I wait for more of a résumé before assessing a guy. I know, crazy, right?

But those selling the new product of “The Yellow Mamba,” a nickname that is going to stick no matter how dumb it is and will be all over t-shirts hours from now need that exotic, sideshow frenzy. The NBA lost a vein of money when Yao Ming had to retire and that somehow Yi Jianlian could not keep pumping, and if Lin can draw the love of the billions in China, even if he’s not a native of the country, of course they will exploit the hell out of him as long as he is marketable.

And I really don’t want him to be marketable for long.

If he attracts new fans to the game—fans who really want to learn about it and will grow to appreciate the game more so than just a player—that would be great. That I’m all for. But I’m not all for a guy becoming fans’ new pet. “I root for the Chinese dude because he’s Chinese and that’s kind of funny because Chinese people (which are all East Asians to me) are funny to me and I drink oven cleaner!” “I root for him because he shares my religious and/or sociopolitical beliefs and I gave all my children names that begin with the same letter!” “I root for him because I’m Asian American and thus I have to root for people who are superficially like me even if it means I don’t care to concern myself with basketball itself!”

You’ll never find me genuinely going nuts for a jai alai player just because he is an overweight Ginger who is bad at talking to women.

My hope is that is small sample size of Lin’s is an anomaly. Those championing him seem not to mention that his four straight big games were against New Jersey (26th of 30 teams in the league in points given up per game), Washington (27th), Utah (23rd), and the Lakers (where he was defended by Derek Fisher’s colostomy bag).

I doubt Jeremy Lin grew up dreaming of being a Chinese American NBA player. He dreamt of being just an NBA player. He worked hard to be where he is at—wasn’t offered athletic scholarships out of high school and wasn’t drafted out of college, which makes for a cute story, but as many forget more often than not does not lead to eternal glory. And if we didn’t live in a society that exploits the different in order to profit from the ignorant, I would wish him long professional success.

But I won’t. I want Linsanity to be brought back to earth and those it afflicts to be given a heavy dose of reality, and I want him to become nothing more in the sports world than a “Remember When” piece or a solid hour-long documentary twenty years from now. A Fernando. A Muresan. A Bosworth. Because I already went through being browbeaten by the story of the guy I am supposed to like just because he is new and odd and inspires cult status.

I’m sorry, Jeremy Lin. As a Harvard guy I’m sure you can appreciate my resistance against the stupid. Nothing personal.

tim baffoe small Baffoe: Sorry, Jeremy Lin, But I Have To Root Against You

Tim Baffoe

Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.

More from Tim Baffoe
  • Exponential Harrumph

    Kind of mean insulting that colostomy bag. The cheek!

    • Chris

      Tim Baffoe needs to learn to write better. This sentence “As a Harvard guy I’m sure you can …”‘ implies you graduated from Harvard and like Lin too were a Harvard guy. Just lete you know.

      • AT3374

        “Just LETE you know ”

        And he needs to learn to write better :)

  • Tim

    I can’t stand journalists who don’t get their facts right — Jeremy Lin is Taiwanese-American. Oh, maybe some of JLin’s fans have been rooting for him since Harvard days?

    • EY

      to JMSF

      your hilarious. did you just read what you typed? Taiwan (republic of china) therefore part of china you dumb ass. Just because you are Chinese does not mean you have to be governed by China. 2 separate things Taiwan is still part of china, even if they have their own government and thats great that they do, doesn’t change the fact that they are part of China. Google an image of China in a map or atlas. Taiwan is a part of china still.

      • JMSF

        Petty, plain stupid, hilarious, dumb ass… You carry on. And carry on believing whatever you want about China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Bye!

    • E.Y

      heres a vid as he says himself that he is “chinese”


    • E.Y

      He’s actually Taiwanese/Chinese-American. His grandparents are from China. And Taiwan is still a part of China, therefore he is “chinese” its people like you that want to make the distinction because your still petty from the civil war, it would be like calling a someone from Hong Kong Hongkongnese. It’s plain stupid.

      • EY

        to JMSF
        your hilarious. did you just read what you typed? Taiwan (republic of china) therefore part of china you dumb ass. Just because you are Chinese does not mean you have to be governed by China. 2 separate things Taiwan is still part of china, even if they have their own government and thats great that they do, doesn’t change the fact that they are part of China. Google an image of China in a map or atlas. Taiwan is a part of china still.

      • JMSF

        Lin is ethnic Chinese and he’s Taiwanese-American. And Taiwan (Republic of China) is not part of China (People’s Republic of China). Beijing says it is part of China and will continue to say so, but it doesn’t change the fact that Taiwan has its own democratically-elected government, which does not answer to Beijing. Incidentally, according to ongoing tracking studies conducted by the University of Hong Kong, majority of people in Hong Kong actually regard themselves as Hongkongers first and Chinese second.

  • Rodo

    Mr. Baffoe, either you lack the possession of a heart or you simply want to direct traffic to your piece. Depending on which, either go see a cardiologist, or start writing when you have something genuinely insightful to contribute. Though on second thought, perhaps a conversation with Mr. Lin will give you some idea about what it means to do something with heart. Best of luck to you, sir, you’ll need it.

  • Ken Chao

    He is the only Northern California Division II Player of the Year not to get a scholarship EVER? can you explain that?

    • rose elect

      That’s the thing about the Jeremy Lin story. There are so many little stories inbetween that make the whole that much bigger. I’m a lifetime bulls and rose fan but enjoy watching Lin play. And his background story is so fascinating and inspiring…inspiring being the key word that gravitates to most people. People always want to be inspired.

  • Jeremy Lin | NewsTrendr

    […] CBS Local […]

  • David Jones

    Wow, this guy is such a tool

  • EY

    Ya your a tool, I understand that, yes, “linsanity” is getting out of control. With just 4 games it is no way to measure if he is the next superstar and to make those judgments would be to much. But give credit where credit is due. He is showing a great performance, and there is nothing wrong with rooting for him. if it all eventually dies down, fine great but he has demonstrated what he can do and that should be credited to him. He certainly has the potential, but to win a title or be the biggest superstar ever takes time, skill and a bit of luck. And these 4 games doesn’t even come close to answer that question but it doesn’t mean he is not a skilled player.

    • TonyStark

      I agree, it does get a bit out of control, but at the same time there’s nothing bad about stories like this. I realize Timmy hates the sentimental stuff that the majority likes, just like most people at the Score, but give the guy time. Even the great Michael Jordan had to wait seven years before winning his first NBA title…and not only was he far more talented, he’s considered to be one of the best of all time!

  • KM

    An overweight, balding, ugly man who probably has no skill and can only get attention by being a tool…really, does this man deserve to be called a “journalist”…

  • Cameltoe Rancher

    Wow- sorry 10’er. I liked the article. Not that it matters.

    But Joe Cowley still sucks

  • Jeremy Lin

    This is disgusting

  • Mark white

    Difference between Tebow and Lin is that Denver won while Tebow mostly played bad but NY Knick won because of Lin. It is very difficult to score 20+ points while dishing 7+ assists for five games in a row.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I root for Lin because he is Ivy League…professional players from the Ivy are so few and far between.

  • Dan Rakow

    To Tim Baffone:Do not expect everybody to like Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls especially Indiana Pacers Fans

  • Jack

    What’s wrong with getting excited about Tebow or Lin.? There accomplishments are real.

    • Spoon

      Tebow’s #1 receiver was the Mile High turf, at least Lin has been able to play… for 4 games…

  • Brick

    I Don’t know what we’re yelling about!

  • Isntreal

    With Jews you lose

  • Broderick Smith

    Whats funny is you are rooting against a guy that didnt ask for the attention. You are a jealous hater. The kid is doing great and should not be ashamed of his success. If you notice he is very humble and quite shy at times. For you to hate an American success story like this, shows how unpatriotic you are.

  • Marky Mark

    Apparently I can’t link to the other network here, but right now they have a poll on their main page asking who is the BEST point guard in the NBA. They list the options are Jeremy Lin, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and Derrick Rose, and then have an “Other” category (Deron Williams, anyone?).

    This is exactly the type of overblown hoo-ha that Baffoe is lamenting, not the kid himself. Sure, he says he’s rooting against him, but not because he dislikes the actual kid. It’s because people (read: espn) feel the need to project some greater meaning to his story and blow him up because he’s something different, rather than actually breaking down his game.

    • rose elect

      He may not hate the kid but he’d rather watch Lin, who has done nothing but work hard all his life to try and get to this point, go down in flames just to prove a point.

  • Spoon

    The number of people that miss the point of the article entirely, is depressing… why are people so dumb?

  • Mike

    I don’t think Mr. Lin is making a big deal of his talents or his faith. “Reporters” like you, Mr. Baffoe, are. With every word you write, you send more attention to Mr. Lin. What’s wrong with association of a sportsman and his faith anyways. Do you prefer Tiger Woods and his temper? Kobe Bryant and his arrogance? Yeah, I’ll take Jeremy Lin and his faith any day.

  • Dap Kin

    There are many jealous haters, very unhappy bitter people who cannot accept and root for people to fail because they are losers in life. They put others down in order to feel good themselves because they will forever be nobodies. Add to that the racism that is against Lin and you have the pathetic garbage above by this “writer”. This is a racially biased “blog” by an irrelevant nobody who wants attention. This writer will never, ever be somebody of any relevance. Lin has more love than this writer ever will experience in his pathetic existence.

  • Chuckychuck

    After today’s game against Torronto, Tim Baffone can STFU Now!

  • Just playing

    For the most part I agree with Mr. Baffone and it is a well written article, but the sterotype insults aren’t any fun when the gun is pointed at you. So Mr. Baffone, you can go home to your wife/sister and your inbred kids and sit in front of the boob tube with a beer in one hand and the other hand scratching your crotch. Oh and don’t forget you have a white power meeting this weekend. :) Just playing.

  • GO Southside

    Everyone has his or her, 15 minutes of FAME. It depends what you do within that time and after? He is a good player that is playing in a market that is looking for help. He happens to be that lifeguard for now. Many people are waiting for him to fail, and see if can pick himself right up. NBA stands for No Bums Allowed. Good Luck to him
    (Except when he plays against the BULLS)

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