LinSanity ice cream, Linsanity, Jeremy Lin, race and Linsanity

Linsanity: Chink In the Armor Fallout

Asian Am Athletes Asian in America

LinSanity ice cream, Linsanity, Jeremy Lin, race and LinsanityYes, there is a new flavor of ice cream named Taste the Lin-Sanity. Does Jeremy Lin get a cut? He should!

The frenzy that is Linsanity has yet to peak and it seems to disregard game by game results by Mr. Lin. Indeed, it’s moved into a new level such that Linsanity has a life of its own. Paramount to this is the question of race, image of Asian Americans of themselves as much as how the rest of the world perceives us, and the bastion of what was always Ebony and Ivory, the NBA. Is it weird to be in year 2012 and have a new hero much like Jackie Robinson was to the sport of baseball or Tiger Woods to golf?

Jeremy Lin is more like Jackie Robinson to me, and the hopes and dreams of Asian Americans seemed pinned to his success. What are our dreams exactly? It can be simply for a young Asian American hapa to make the NBA like my young friend Tom in 4th grade. Finally, he has a role model that he can relate to. It’s also a coolness factor. That Asian American men actually are sexy, strong, and confident despite Madison Avenue messaging that only Asian women are sex symbols.

And what do you think of Chink in the Armor? My friends, the musical group The Slants, are probably chuckling. Our world is now so PC that they — The Slants — an Asian American dance band (and very good, check them out) are denied trademark rights because they dare to denigrate themselves with racial slurs. To be honest, Chink in the Armor is a clever play on words. Very headline worthy. Catchy too. Is it too honest? That people view Lin as a Chink? Do they view him that way or was this just a headline grabber for readership? I would like to think the writer who was fired is not even racist. That’s entirely possible.

There is a whole new huge world out there that is now suddenly interested in basketball who never paused the channel before and it extends beyond the U.S.A. That Lin can engage the Asian community both here and in China is a marketer’s dream. With his squeaky clean image juxtaposed with his on court swagger, this is a new world of media images we’ve never seen before. I think it will start to extend beyond basketball. Maybe there will finally be an Asian Old Spice guy. Maybe Asian actors will be cast beyond doctors and techno geniuses.

What do you think? Did Chink in the Armor bother you or did it just bounce off your armor? Does it bother you that Linsanity is not just about his basketball ability but his race or do you accept that it’s a package deal? Do you think the hype IS caused by race? I’d love to get your opinion!


ESPN has swiftly fired the writer responsible for publishing a post about the Knicks Friday loss with title, “Chink In the Armor.” The headline went up at 2:30 am and ran for exactly 35 minutes before it was taken down.

ESPN released the following statement apologizing for the lapse in judgement:

Last night,’s mobile web site posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 am ET. The headline was removed at 3:05 am ET. We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.

ESPN anchor Max Bretos has also been suspended for 30 days for asking, “If there is a chink in the armor, where can Lin improve his game?” while on the air. Whoops, shoulda just gone with a simple, “You Lin Some, You Lose Some.”

from Gawker

Some more interesting articles sent by friends. Thanks Tai, Nathalie and Tim!

Linsanity: A Marketer’s Dream from CNN

“From a marketing perspective for the Knicks, Lin’s popularity is proving a boon — last week his No.17 jersey was outselling those of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.”

Is Linsanity Hype Caused by Race? from CNN

“Floyd Mayweather Jr., the famed boxer, caused controversy when he said the other day, ‘Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.'” Lin is the first Chinese-American to not just get on the court but make a major impact in the NBA. That is huge. 

Asian Harvard Grad Somehow Succeeding In New York; Or, Why I Love Jeremy Lin from DeadSpin

“Jeremy Lin, a charming 23-year-old with an economics degree from Harvard College, has somehow become the city’s ultimate underdog and talisman.”

Just Lin, Baby! 10 Lessons Jeremy Lin Can Teach Us Before We Go To Work Monday Morning from Forbes

“The Jeremy Lin story is incredibly popular because we can all see a little bit of ourselves in this man’s struggles and now successes.”

1. Believe in yourself when no one else does.

2. Seize the opportunity when it comes up.

3. Your family will always be there for you, so be there for them. 

4. Find the system that works for your style.

5. Don’t overlook talent that might exist around you today on your team.

6. People will love you for being an original, not trying to be someone else.

7. Stay humble. 

8. When you make others around you look good, they will love you forever.

9. Never forget about the importance of luck or fate in life.

10. Work your butt off.

May we all learn from Jeremy Lin and be better for it.


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16 thoughts on “Linsanity: Chink In the Armor Fallout”

  1. Nice article! This story about Lin has so many angles and it will touch everyone’s heart in a different way. As a Caucasian living in Palo Alto (and professing to know little to nothing about basketball) the Asian American success story wasn’t forefront in my mind but thanks for bringing it up as it has enlightened me. I think it so fabulous that an underdog can turn everyone’s head and become such a success story. The message I take away is “don’t sell yourself short”. These words my father repeated to me during my youth and we should all remember them and preach them to our children. And, you can be academically strong and play sports too. Lin is a case in point there.

  2. Mia, very nice article and thanks for mentioning Tom – he is certainly a Jeremy Lin fan, but you should know that when the Knicks played the Celtics, Tom was rooting for Rondo (who had a great game!) over Lin.. I think that’s a good sign – sports fans are color- and race-blind.

  3. Very interesting article! Can’t wait to taste the Lin-Sanity. I’ll have to see if my local grocery stores carry it…

    Posted by Bruce Y

    From my LinkedIn Group Diversity – A World of Change

  4. In regard to this, “Jeremy Lin is more like Jackie Robinson.” Well, no. Robinson was kept out of white professional baseball because of institutionalized racism. There were no such accusations in regard to Lin and his eligibility to play basketball.

    The article is also an interesting commentary on the fact that members of certain groups are permitted to refer to themselves with terms that are regarded as derogatory if used by members of other groups.

    In regard to the “Lin-Sanity” ice cream, I’ve read that Lin has attempted to copyright the term. So my best guess is that he is receiving royalties from Ben and Jerrys, capitalizing on his fame.

    Posted by Marc Brenman

    From my LinkedIn Group Diversity – A World of Change

  5. Good points Marc. Yes, it’s true the NBA didn’t ever outlaw Asian Americans but I compare Lin to Robinson as a leader who showed the world that he can be a contender and thus became a role model for his race.

    It’s ironic that The Slants can’t trademark their name because it’s perceived as derogatory without getting Asian American groups to sign off on it. The Slants were mostly made up of Asian Americans when they filed for their trademark, though I noticed they’ve added new members who are not.

    I’m glad to hear Lin is getting royalties for his ice cream flavor!

  6. I want to be clear that I am not sure that Lin is getting royalties for the term “Lin-Sanity,” only that I read in the New York Times that he was applying for copyright protection. As to the phrase “a role model for his race,” that phrase is freighted with meaning, and not popular among African-Americans. I suspect that among a number of other groups it is not in favor also. But language in reference to race and ethnicity changes over time and place, and among in-groups, out-groups, and individuals. As for myself, I’d prefer that someone not say, “He’s not bad for a Jew,” which is what “He’s a role model for his race” sounds like to me. But those are my ears. To someone else, the phrase will sound different.

    Posted by Marc Brenman

    From my LinkedIn Group Diversity – A World of Change

  7. LinkedIn Groups

    Group: Harvard University Alumni
    Discussion: Linsanity and Examining the Chink in the Armour Fallout. What do you think?
    I am a huge Jeremy Lin fan, and I followed how he was doing while he was at Harvard. I’m so proud of how he is doing in the NBA and even prouder of his integrity and character in the face of a whirlwind of international media attention. Honestly, the “Chink in the Armor” headline did not bother me. In my opinion, for the AA (Asian-American) community to react so strongly against it and denounce it as a racial slur, it shows that AAs are internalizing Lin such that they let Lin’s successes and failures as well as media reactions to him somehow reflect on them fundamentally. What would be more honorable would be to take Jeremy Lin’s attitude, which is just to shrug off offensive comments and just move on unaffected. The only one who should have the right to respond is Jeremy himself and not the entire AA community. And Jeremy said he understood, accepted the apology, and gave him grace. Why can’t the AA community follow suit and demonstrate real security that our identity and self-esteem are not tied to public perception of one member of the AA community? Why need we project so much of ourselves onto Jeremy? Turns out, the ESPN editor didn’t even realize the racial nuance until later, which showed that it was just an innocent headline. In fact, “chink in the armor” is a perfectly normal English expression that is used thousands of times by sports writers. The ESPN editor who was fired apologized and deeply regretted his oversight. I honestly would like to see AAs take the higher road and choose not to be oversensitive and overdramatic about the whole thing. That’s fine if we alert the person to their mistake so that they learn never to make hurtful comments again, even if unintended. But after they have learned their lesson, why not restore them? In other words, I think a public rebuke and maybe even a suspension (like the ESPN anchor got) would have been enough. Clearly the editor learned his lesson by now and will never use that phrase again. I don’t think he deserves losing his job over this. What would be the most powerful demonstration of AA grace, strength, and confidence would be if we all rallied behind this ESPN editor and fought for his job back. Just my two cents…

    Posted by Christie Chong

    From my LinkedIn Group Harvard University Alumni

  8. Agree with both of you, Christie and Mia. The fact that Lin and the writer were able to get together over lunch demonstrates the courage of the writer to face Lin in what had to have been an initially awkward meeting. Lin has exhibited grace and forgiveness in this situation. So should we. Time to move on.

    Posted by Corlis Chang

    From my LinkedIn group Harvard University Alumni

  9. Mia – Actually, our entire lineup in The Slants is comprised entirely of Asians and Asian Americans (it’s been that way for the last three years).

    In regards to the trademark, we had dozens of API organizations, activists, newspapers, etc. write in support of it…but what we really needed was the non-API lawyer reviewing the file to sign off on it. The biggest issue with that particular event was that no API’s were involved in the decision on their end.

    Simon Tan of The Slants

    From my LinkedIn Group Diversity – A World of Change

  10. Marc – I wholeheartedly agree with you; language, like culture, does change over time which is why I believe in re-appropriation as a tool for social change.

    Simon Tan of The Slants

    From my LinkedIn Group Diversity – A World of Change

  11. No worries, we have photos up from all incarnations of the band; also, a few members are happa’s so some reflect less of the East Asian look than others.

    And thank you!

    Posted by Simon Tam

    From my LinkedIn Group Diversity – A World of Change

  12. This is actually INCREDIBLE that anyone would surmise that proper usage of this legitimate phrase has any other meaning other than it’s true American English definition. Thank you for posting Mia!

    Posted by Jennifer Reehill

    From my LinkedIn Group Beyond the Box Thinkers

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