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Culture / Sporting Life

Hot Comic Calls Out Kobe Bryant for Dissing Jeremy Lin, Attacks Racial Bias Emasculating Asians

BY // 06.09.17

With the Golden State Warriors whipping through the process of proving they’re the greatest team in NBA history, there isn’t a lot of drama in the Association at the moment. Kevin Durant wrapped up the Finals MVP Award after Game 3. The NBA Draft is still almost two weeks away. And even Lonzo Ball’s dad has gone largely quiet.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some secret Hollywood buzz in Adam Silver’s league. It just happens to be around Jeremy Lin — the player the haters love to loathe, the player the NBA should be thanking its lucky stars it has.

Now, a major comic is detailing how Lin almost changed his whole world view.

Comedian/actor Hasan Minhaj — the Daily Show force who made a big splash hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner — spewed the Lin love during an appearance on Bill Simmons’ powerhouse podcast. “Huge,” Minhaj says of Lin’s emergence and nearly literal shooting down of Asian racial stereotypes. “Changed my life.”

“What’s so great is he did what Bollywood does for male egos,” Minhaj continues. “It’s so funny. In Hollywood, Indian males are emasculated. We’re like the IT nerds. But in Bollywood, we have like eight-packs, we’re in the mountains, we have lovers, we f*** people up. It’s the best. (Jeremy) did that to American culture.

“He’s like, ‘No, this Asian male is an alpha.’ He was a ninja out there.”

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Hasan Minhaj first became enamored with Lin when the rest of America noticed first him — during his Linsanity run with the New York Knicks (and current Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni). All these years later, after finally experiencing some breakthrough success of his own too, Minhaj still harbors a grudge or two from Jeremy Lin’s arrival spree. Hello Kobe Bryant!

“Kobe’s such a dick about it too,” Minhaj says of the Lakers star’s reaction to Linsanity. “At the All-Star Game, Kobe’s ‘I don’t know who Jeremy Lin was…’ ”

Minhaj does not take kindly to those who mess with someone who he feels changed society — and hopefully sports’ worldview. The comic details to Simmons how the pantheon of how basketball players were regarded used to be “Black basketball players, white basketball players, women, paraplegics, the WNBA, and then, Asian/Indian Americans, way down at the bottom.”

“He’s like, ‘No, this Asian male is an alpha.’ He was a ninja out there.”

Lin’s career (and the roll call of pro coaches who doubted or dismissed him — or mindlessly limited his role) proves that some stereotypes die hard. Minhaj can relate to how hard Lin had to scratch and claw to get his chance, from absurdly going undrafted, to getting cut by the Rockets that fateful Christmas Eve, to being benched for inferior players.

“What about me?” Minhaj says. “That was Jeremy. F*** you, you didn’t draft me. He was like, ‘I had to go to Harvard, I was one of the best players in Cali! It was branding. Look at this kid. It’s the way he looks. I felt that way in Hollywood too.

He can’t be a leading man. Look how he looks. It was so cool to see Jeremy say, ‘I’m going to put up numbers and you’ll have to deal with it.’ ”

Minhaj’s own run through Hollywood has been nearly as stop sign filled as Lin’s climb through the NBA. The 31-year-old needed to perform on NBC”s short-lived Stand Up for Diversity show and MTV’s Disaster Dates before finally landing his true big break as the last correspondent Jon Stewart hired himself for The Daily Show.

“I have this weird connection to him,” Minhaj says. “He’s such a child of immigrants. Good kid, loves his brothers and siblings. I really resonate with that story.”

Mike D’Antoni has proven the Houston doubters wrong just like his favorite player Jeremy Lin.

Now Hasan Minhaj yearns for a time when Jeremy Lin will be featured again like he was in D’Antoni’s offense during that too-brief Linsanity run. That is certainly not a situation Lin has found himself in Brooklyn, even with former Knicks assistant Kenny Atkinson as his head coach.

“To me that the dude you cheated off of in calc class is crossing up John Wall, and going gametime in your face (is great),” Minhaj tells Simmons, recalling his Linsanity fascination. “I’m just like, ‘Eat it! Eat it!’

“The game against Toronto… someone — Amar’e (Stoudemire) or Melo (Carmelo Anthony) — asks for the ball and he waves them off. Just the grapefruits of that. ‘Get out of here! The calc TA is about to take the game winner. Then, he hits it!”

Now, more than five years later, Hasan Minhaj waits for that Lin to return. To be given a real chance to return.

“You start to think about the moment,” Minhaj says of the additional mental challenge Lin faces in addition to still lingering racial bias. “I’ve seen this in comedians too. The expectations. They weigh down on you and you can’t take the same swings you used to.”

No one said changing the world is easy.

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