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In an interview with Cary Chow of The Undefeated, Lin talked about the dichotomy of being the only active player of Asian descent in the league:
“At times it kind of sucks. At other times it’s amazing. Amazing because you get to challenge everyone’s viewpoints and perspectives. I’m rooting for so many more Asians to come in. Last year, when I was with Brooklyn and we had Ding [Yanyuhang] on the summer league team, I was like, ‘Dude, please make the team. We’d have so much fun together during the season.'”Sponsored Content
Upon making his NBA debut in 2010 with the Golden State Warriors, Lin became the first Asian-American player since Rex Walters.
Walters, whose mother is Japanese, played for three teams in seven seasons from 1993-2000. He said in a 2011 interview with Rick Quan that Lin was continuing to create opportunities for more Asian-American athletes.
“I consider myself Japanese American. I just don’t always—I don’t look it. People are always surprised. Now we’ve got a guy like Jeremy Lin breaking barriers, I’d like to think I played a small part in that.”
Lin noted in his interview that his experience in the NBA has been an eye-opening experience:
“When I was growing up playing basketball, I didn’t see much color. I didn’t really think it made a difference. After I went through Linsanity, I learned the world wasn’t quite ready or didn’t know how to handle Asian-Americans, Asian-Americans in sports, Asian-American masculinity and a lot of different Asian-American issues.”
Lin became the first NBA player to come out of Harvard since Ed Smith in 1953-54. The 30-year-old is now in his ninth season after going undrafted out of college. At the height of “Linsanity” during the 2011-12 season, New York Knicks games in Taiwan—where his family emigrated from—regularly generated 3 million viewers on television.
Lin now plays for the Raptors after being bought out by the Atlanta Hawks. He’s averaging 10.7 points and 3.5 assists in 53 games this season.