Throughout Jeremy Lin’s basketball career, he was automatically labeled as an underdog because of his race. As an Asian American basketball player, he was unable to receive the attention from recruiters that his statistics showed he deserved. However, although through hard work and perseverance he was able to seemingly break through the restraints of his stereotype, the film Linsanity shows how Jeremy Lin’s career aligns with the model minority stereotype. Although Lin was aware of the prejudices against him, his mindset remained that he needs to work harder to compensate for his limitations rather than try to change the structure of the system itself. As a result, Linsanity shows a bigger problem in the model minority myth because it shows that Asian Americans must abide by this stereotype, despite its toxicity in order to succeed in life.

The film Linsanity portrays how throughout Jeremy’s life, he was constantly overlooked as a basketball player due to his race. The prejudices against Jeremy as an Asian American basketball player started from a very early age due to the lack of representation of Asian Americans in basketball. However, these kinds of problem continued for Jeremy through college recruitment where he was unable to receive a scholarship from any division 1 school despite the fact that he took his team to win the state championships against Mater Dei, a school highly renowned for their basketball program. Not only was he unable to receive a scholarship, despite his talent and obvious success as a player, he was unable to have any top recruiters even consider him because he obviously “didn’t fit into the mold” (Linsanity, 18:07). Jeremy Lin was always seen as an underdog and was not given a second glance by either college or NBA coaches because he did not fit the narrow definition of potential in the basketball community. Because Jeremy did not fit the part of a big, strong, non-Asian, basketball player, despite his hard work, he was unable to get any acknowledgment and struggled as a basketball player. In spite of his obstacles, Jeremy was able to become a great player and gain the recognition that he deserved through hard work and perseverance. Unlike the significant majority of starters in the NBA, Jeremy was not recruited from his college team. Instead, “he had to fight for everything that he got”. After not getting recruited in the 2010 draft his statistics in the NBA summer league averaged better than the 1st overall pick. As a result, he was finally signed a contract with the Golden State Warriors, becoming “the first Asian American NBA player in the modern era” (33:00). But, even when he made it to the NBA, he still struggled and was sent to the Golden State Warriors D-League, the minor league equivalent, three times throughout the season. However, instead of letting this discourage him, it gave him the will to work even harder and he thinks “hard work is definitely ingrained in Taiwanese culture, in Chinese culture” (45:52). Following this mindset, during the NBA lockout, when Jeremy says in the film that he secretly wanted it to continue so he can use all the time off to practice. It was finally after he got waived multiple times and sent to the New York Knicks, that his hard work finally paid off and Linsanity was all over headline news. Despite the struggles in Jeremy’s career, through a series of breakout games where Jeremy outscored and outworked the other team, he quickly became a rising phenomenon. His hard work finally paid off and he was able to gain the recognition that he deserved and his success seemingly freed him from the restraints of his stereotype.  However, although Jeremy Lin was able to succeed despite the odds, the movie Linsanity shows Jeremy overcoming prejudices against him through hard work rather through a restructuring of the system. “At every step of the way [Jeremy] had to overcome all these odds”, however, he overcame his obstacles with the mindset that he simply had to get better or work harder. His mindset was not that there was a flaw in the system. Rather than try to fix the prejudices in the NBA, he instead worked to overcome these prejudices, which directly aligns with the model minority stereotype. Although Jeremy was able to succeed despite the hardships that he faced, because the way he went about his success was through hard work and perseverance rather than through confrontations, he fails to reform the system in anyway. As a result, he shows that Asian Americans be successful despite the restrictions of their stereotypes simply through determination, which further reinforces the model minority myth. However, if he had tried to gain success in basketball through reformation of the NBA system rather than hard work, the chances are that he would not have been as successful as he currently is. Jeremy Lin’s career the model minority myth is more complicated than it initially appears because Jeremy Lin was only able to succeed by reinforcing the stereotype and if he had taken any other route, he is unlikely to have succeeded.


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