Granted, anyone who opens a newspaper, turns on the TV or surfs the Web has heard about rising NBA star Jeremy Lin. But why should gays care about him?
Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it.
Herewith, the top five things you need to know about the 23-year-old point guard:
1. Jeremy Lin is the most talked-about player in basketball right now.
He’s consistently made the front page of every New York newspaper—not to mention Sports Illustrated, ESPN.com, and countless sports sections. Not only is he a phenomenal player but he almost wasn’t going to make it off the bench—it wasn’t until a teammate got injured that Lin got his chance at the big time.
This month, Lin was on a seven-game winning streak, only to narrowly lose a matchup with the New Orleans Hornets, 89-85. (The Knicks lost again Monday night, to the New Jersey Nets). Still, Lin’s been scoring between 23 and a career-high 38 points per game.
Although his astounding record speaks for itself, Lin is one of the few Asians in NBA history, and the first Chinese-American player in the league. His devoutly Christian parents emigrated here from Taiwan in the 1970s. Prior to his meteoric rise, Lin crashed on his brother’s couch on the Lower East Side. Now he lives in a fancy apartment at the Trump Tower in White Plains, NY, close to the Knicks’ Westchester training arena.
Most outlets have reported Lin’s ethnicity sensitively but, over the weekend, an ESPN.com reporter was fired after using the headline “Chink in the Armor” to describe Lin’s loss to the Hornets.
The ensuing controversy sent the blogosphere atwitter.
2. He’s an Evangelical Christian but all signs indicate he’s not a homophobe.
Lin graduated from Harvard in May 2010 with a 3.1 GPA and a major in economics. At Harvard, he was a leader in the Asian American Christian Fellowship and has said that he could see himself becoming a pastor later in life—one that heads up charitable nonprofits, though, not some fire-and-brimstone anti-gay preacher. (Successful Ivy League players in the NBA may be rarer than Asian ones: The most recent was Yale’s Chris Dudley in 2003 and the last Harvard player in the NBA was in 1954.)
While Lin has never spoken about homosexuality publicly (and the Knicks have yet to record an “It Gets Better” video), he seems like a generally nice, goofy guy who’s smart enough to not to post some homophobic tweet.
It seems like Lin is too focused on his career to canoodle with female folk, although they have been taking a liking to him (see this photo). Sources say the rising star has no serious girlfriend now, but he did have a one in college, with whom things “ended amicably.”
Last week after a victory Lin was spotted at Avenue nightclub, where he nursed one Bud Light all night—even as his teammates enjoyed the six bottles of champagne the club sent over.
He didn’t hit on any babes, either. Earlier in the evening, he celebrated his victory with a quiet dinner with his parents.
4. He’s not gay, but he is cute.
Sadly, Lin is, by all accounts, straight. And we don’t see him becoming a gay icon like David Beckham or Mark Sanchez. Still we’re glad Lin’s reminded gay and straight America alike that Asian men are athletic and sexy, too.
And Gaysian blogger I Am Yellow Peril reports his Adam4Adam account has started blowing up since Linsanity began: “And the result of these monumental shifts in the tectonic plates of global pop culture? I’ll get laid. Progress!”
Right wingers are jumping onto Lin’s story to shoehorn it into their God-makes-Christians-successful narrative. Tim Tebow praised Lin as a “great role model” and conservative braniac Sarah Palin called him “an American story—uplifting, positive… He unifies our country!”
Linsanity has also struck Mary J. Blige, Paul McCartney, Eva Longoria and Kevin Costner. Kim Kardashian might be spreading rumors the two are dating, Lin swears it’s not true.
So now you’re an expert on Jeremy Lin. But what do you say if his name comes up in conversation, say at an office party, family reunion or somewhere else you might bump into hetero sports fans?
You could mention how great it is to see an Asian Ivy Leaguer making it big in the NBA.
Or you could go with the insider approach: “He’s definitely taking care of the ball better and will definitely nail that triple-double.”
Just be sure to quickly walk away so no one can ask a follow-up.