I also liked the “behind the scenes” type conversations about life in the NBA described in this segment – little tidbits about how different levels of players have to deal with practice jerseys, adjusting to a new team, and tricks that other players use to their advantage (e.g. Vince Carter chatting up players on the court to distract). Other interesting parts of the conversation include why Lin has a video production team and Youtube channel – he felt that if he didn’t get his own voice out, other voices which had stereotypical attitudes about Asian Americans would dominate. I particularly enjoyed him making fun of Cornell University, mocking it as a lower tier Ivy and comparing it to a younger sibling who is jealous of everything (sorry John!).
Here are some pointers to the more interesting parts published in smaller segments:
I heart professional sports. I love baseball, basketball, and football. I’m mostly obsessed with my local teams (Dodgers, Lakers, USC, and now Chargers). To prove it, I spend way too much time on fantasy sports. (On a side note, I’m the commissioner of a dynasty football league and we’re looking for a new owner so if interested, hit me up). That’s why when I tried to figure out what I should write about, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done a top five Asian American athletes article for 8Asians before.
Figuring out a top five was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. First, I’ll be honest, the list was going to be a top ten. However, I realized right away that finding ten Asian American athletes I wanted to talk about was going to be a lot harder than I originally thought. Five seemed way more manageable.
Then, I had to decide which sports to include. Because I’m most knowledge about the three major sports in the United States, I decided to limit it to those—so baseball, basketball, and football. This means that I don’t mention the Olympians (Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Anton Ohno, Michelle Kwan, Sammy Lee, and others that I’m probably missing), golfers (Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie), or a tennis star (Michael Chang). My apologies to all of them. They are all amazing athletes and some played formative roles in my life. You can’t find a Japanese American who was around in the 1990s who didn’t swell with pride watching Kristi Yamaguchi in the Olympics or an Asian American kid from the late 80s, who didn’t play tennis because of Michael Chang.
And finally, this list does not include any Asian Asians (in other words, people who were born in Asia and do not consider themselves Asian American). This means that stars such as Hideo Nomo, Chan Ho Park, Yao Ming, Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish or countless others are not eligible.
Because the list was limited to my top five, there were some names I had to leave off. Here are some of the other athletes that I considered for this list that deserve to be mentioned: Major League Baseball players Ron Darling, Don Wakamatsu, Kurt Suzuki, Travis Ishikawa, NBA and Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, and NFL football players Hines Ward, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Polamalu, Rey Maualuga, Edward Wang. Also, it should be mentioned that on principle, I cannot include any San Francisco Giant. So Tim Lincecum is not eligible. Sorry Giant fans—your team sucks this year by the way.
Without further ado, here is my list of top five Asian American athletes.
#5: DAT NGUYEN
Dat was a star linebacker for Texas A&M and played five years for the Dallas Cowboys. He has the tenth most career tackles in Dallas history. He was the first Vietnamese American to play in the NFL.
Why I chose Dat? Despite being a USC Trojans fan, I remember what it meant to me to see Dat Nguyen on the field at Texas and then later Dallas. Everyone said he was too small and slow to play in the NFL, but he never listened to his critics. He took pride in being the baddest linebacker on any field he played on.
#4: KENICHI ZENIMURA
Kenichi is known as the “Father of Japanese American baseball.” Among many accomplishments, he was responsible for bringing Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a barnstorming tour of Japan, which is credited for baseball’s popularity in the country. But most importantly, he was instrumental in creating a baseball league in the Gila Riva Interment camp.
Why did I chose Kenichi? Unlike the other athletes on this list, Kenichi’s role was more of an ambassador than a player. He was the main force behind a Japanese American baseball league in the deserts of an internment camp that made life just a little more bearable and fun for those incarcerated.
#3: WATARU “WAT” MISAKA
Wat was the first non-white player and first Asian American to play in the NBA.
Why did I chose Wat? Despite having only played three games in the NBA, he is a legend in my book. He broke the NBA’s color barrier the same year that Jackie Robinson did it in baseball. But the thing that people forget about Wat, he was actually a hell of a basketball player. At five feet and seven inches, he led his college basketball team to an NCAA championship in 1944.
#2: TIANA BAUL SEAU JR. aka: JUNIOR SEAU
Junior is a hall of fame linebacker who played nineteen years in the NFL for the San Diego Charger, Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots.
Why I chose Junior? Junior was a stud. First round draft pick. Defense player of the year. Multiple Pro-Bowls. Linebacker of the Year. Super Bowl Champion. Hall of famer. And of course USC alumni. But what I remember about him was the 1994 championship game where he played with a pinched nerve in his neck and somehow still managed to get 16 tackles.
#1 Jeremy Lin
Jeremy is an NBA guard who has played for the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets. He has averaged twelve points and four and a half assists in his career.
Why I chose Jeremy? This was a rather obvious choice. All I have to say is Linsanity. Most people remember him because of those few weeks in New York. But the reality is that he’s had a very successful career. And frankly, he’s the guy every young Asian American basketball player who has ever played the game wants to be.
While John Wall is one of the fastest point guards in the NBA and is acknowledged for his athleticism, there is another point guard that is almost as fast whose athleticism isn’t as highly regarded. In the above video that I learned about from this article, Jeremy Lin comments that when he came into the league, his speed numbers were almost as fast as John Wall’s. John Wall was considered “athletic” but he was merely “deceptively athletic.” He goes on to talk about Asian American masculinity and “yellow fever.” While we have talked about Asian American masculinity before, these are not subjects Lin often talks about, and it’s interesting to hear it from a high profile Asian American male.
You may be wondering, is this real news that Lin is citing, about being called “deceptively athletic?” I did find the actual media reference here, where former head coach and commentator Jeff Van Gundy calls him that during the Linsanity period. In addition, while the Slam Online story starts the video when Jeremy Lin speaks, the first part of the whole video is some commentary by Kevin Kreider, who took the video and posted it. Kreider is a personal trainer and former model.
“The site appears to mirror the Nets English language web offerings. Also, it’s expected to include features and a community calendar directed at the 200,000 Chinese and Chinese-Americans in Brooklyn —and 850,000 in the New York metropolitan area. The Nets’ HSS Training Center is located across the BQE from Sunset Park, which is becoming Brooklyn’s Chinatown.
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 17: “The Flush”
Original airdate March 15, 2017.
Microsynopsis: Jessica takes Honey, Emery, and Evan on a road trip to Georgia in order to save the handling charge on a new recliner for Grandma. At first it seems everyone is having a great time, but the boys are secretly catering to their mother in order to keep her from becoming a Road Grump.
Louis, learning only now that Eddie has kissed Alison, decides he hasn’t been spending enough time with his eldest, so he takes the opportunity to plan a Guys’ Weekend. Eddie invites his friends when he learns that their weekend plans sound awful, and Trent brings a bottle of beer he bought from his sister. Eddie take the first sip and, to his horror, learns about the Asian Flush.
Good: If the Asian Flush has ever been mentioned on a prime time fictional program, I haven’t heard about it. I love that in the show’s fifty-fourth episode, it’s still introducing new Asian-ness to prime time television. I’m only noticing now that the boys in Eddie’s crew are developing a few decent acting skills. Trevor Larcom (Trent) was already the best of them, but the others aren’t far behind. The flashback scene (with Sheng Wang, Ali Wong, Jeremy Lin, and Ming-Na Wen) is cute. Also: Hellllloooooo Ming-Na Wen.
Bad: The road trip story is ridiculous, uninteresting, and kind of tired. While it’s consistent with Jessica’s character (not to mention Evan’s and Emery’s), it really doesn’t develop any of the characters further than we were with them a year ago. It feels like we’ve seen variations on this story at least five times.
FOB moment: When Jessica enters the final stage of Road Grumpiness, she speaks only in Mandarin.
Soundtrack flashback: “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory (1990, sung terribly with the wrong words by Louis). “Ice Cream” by Sarah McLachlan (1993).
Final grade, this episode: Huge props for introducing a new (funny!) topic to TV, but cut the Jessica story down, and there could have been some funny moments with Eddie and his friends when the flush first breaks out. Huge missed opportunity, especially since the road trip bit is draggy as heck.
The Golden Girls TV Guide is from January 31, 1987. Has Brian been carrying that thing around since he was three? B-minus.
If you read 8Asians.com, you’ve probably already come across a Jeremy Lin fan video highlighting the injustices against opponents flagrantly fouling him titled, Jeremy Lin: Too Flagrant Not to Call and his opponents not getting called a foul. I’ve watched the video, and it’s not pretty.
“Hsiu-Chen Kuei waited until her husband and three sons had gone to bed one night recently before surreptitiously beginning work on an ambitious personal project.
As they slept, Kuei, 48, a stay-at-home mother from San Jose, Calif., hunkered down at her computer and began poring over highlight videos featuring Charlotte Hornets guard JeremyLin, her favorite N.B.A. player. She fumbled around on Final Cut Pro, a video-editing program, splicing together the specific clips she had sought. She did this for six straight nights, three hours each night.
On April 5, Kuei uploaded her finished product, a six-and-a-half-minute video, to YouTube. She called it “JeremyLin: Too Flagrant Not to Call.”Piecing together clips of Lin over the years getting whacked in the face, clotheslined, bleeding, tumbling to the floor — all without ever drawing a flagrant foul — Kuei tried to convey that Lin, an American-born son of immigrants from Taiwan, was the victim of excessive physicality from opponents and insufficient protection from the league and its referees.
To Kuei’s surprise, the video soon attracted close to a million views, capturing the attention of basketball fans around the world and the eye of the league — even if no one quite knew who was behind it.”
Flagrant Foul given the full circumstances, angles and comparables from past games. Referees do make mistakes, which means they miss calls that should have been made. When that occurs, we collect the data and provide referees with feedback to ensure improvement.”
I read the New York Times article online, so I was even more surprised to see the Jeremy Lin article made it to the print edition’s FRONT PAGE! (at least of the National Edition). A friend of mine (h/t to Vitus), sent me this photo of his print edition of the Times, where the article headline is Fan’s Video Calls Foul on How N.B.A. Treats Asian-American:
I can’t say I watch enough Jeremy Lin these days to make a judgement on the officiating, since I mostly follow my local and awesome team, the Golden State Warriors. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was unconscious bias against Lin on not calling fouls against his opponents. Too bad the Warriors traded Lin a long time ago – would be great if he returned.
Working in Silicon Valley and as part of my job, I’ve checked out and played around with a few smartwatches. Personally, I can’t say that I’m a big fan of them – having to charge an extra device, and most of the watches are a bit bulky and not very stylish (there’s a reason why I love my Skagen watch – thin and stylish).
“Just a few days ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (C.E.S.) in Las Vegas, Tag Heuer showed off its newest Connected watches – designed in collaboration with athletes Tom Brady (quarterback for the New England Patriots football team), Jeremy Lin (professional basketball star) and Giancarlo Stanton (professional baseball star with the Miami Marlins MLB team). The watches represent the first “personalized” dials for the TAG Heuer Connected watch that was just unveiled to the world late in 2015. … The TAG Heuer Connected watch, created with Intel Inside and powered by Android Wear™, is a 46mm watch crafted in the Carrera style in titanium with an option of black or bright-colored rubber straps. Its retail price is $1,500.”
I like the design of the Jeremy Lin watch, but I’m not willing to spend $1,500 on any watch – smart or not. I wonder what kind of volumes these watches will sell?
Also, the thing with smartwatches is that new versions will be coming out every year or so, with new features, etc. In my opinion, a watch needs to be “timeless.” And beyond tell time, the number one feature that needs to be improved for a smart watch is battery life …
Fresh Off the Boat, Season 2, Episode 4: “Fall Ball”
Original airdate October 13, 2015.
Microsynopsis: Louis is beyond excited about Eddie’s upcoming Fall Ball, the first school dance for the middle-schooler. He offers to give Eddie and his friends pointers on making the evening a “life-changing experience,” including advice on dancing, attire, and hair. Jessica is surprised to be the only one who didn’t know Grandma was dating someone, a dentist who’s just died. When she learns that Grandma is receiving an inheritance, Jessica sees an opportunity to get involved in house-flipping.
Good: New character development with Honey, Jessica, and Grandma is strong, the kind of character-driven relationship-building I’ve longed to see more of in this show. Louis is over-the-top enthusiastic about the school dance, but that’s made up for with a sincerely progressive kind of parental advice centered not on his expectations for his boy, but on his boy’s comfort levels and self-confidence. I’m really big on family sitcoms being something young people can discuss with their parents (or whoever), and Fresh off the Boat consistently does well in this area.
Other pluses: The flashback with guest Jeremy Lin, not as himself, is cute, and it highlights something primetime television and professional basketball have in common. Eddie and Allison (the piccolo-playing girl from episode 2) get some time together at the dance, Honey is especially gorgeous this week, Simple Minds is in the soundtrack, someone finally calls Jessica out on her rudeness, and the school dance is one kind of awkwardness stacked on other kinds of awkwardness, like almost all middle-school dances.
Bad: Still not a fan of grownups at the school, and in this episode the other group of regular characters I don’t like, the Cattleman’s Ranch employees, show up in the school context too. Ugh.
FOB moment: “Don’t compare us to white people. They are the cruelest race.”
Soundtrack flashback: “Boombastic” by Shaggy (1995) and “Alive and Kicking” by Simple Minds (1985)! You can never have too much Simple Minds in school dance scenes.
Final grade, this episode: It’s borderline between a high B and a B+, but the writing in this episode is tight. B+.
While he jokes about possible endorsements in the above video, Jeremy Lin revealed in a recent interview that he turned down millions in endorsements during Linsanity. The reason? He wanted to focus on basketball. You might think “no big deal,” but he says that the endorsement money would have been bigger than his salary, including his upcoming $14 million dollar season.
Lin says in that interview that he has been given a talent by God, and that he should concentrate on developing it. Completely separate from his views of God, I think an excellent point can be learned from this about focus and opportunity. The window to play professional basketball is not very large, and later in life, he might regret being distracted by overdoing off-court activities like endorsement activities and not giving basketball his best possible effort. If the opportunity of a lifetime comes up, seize it with both hands, as reaching for other things might let it slip from one’s grasp. That’s a great lesson not just about basketball but for life in general.