Jeremy Lin reacts after committing a costly turnover near the end of Game 4.

Jeremy Lin reacts after committing a costly turnover near the end of Game 4.

Over the four games in the Western Conference 1st Round Playoffs against the Portland Trailblazers, Jeremy Lin is averaging a pedestrian 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 28.5 minutes per game. While those numbers don’t seem that bad, the bigger issue is his shooting percentage (36.4%), 3-point field goal percentage (16.7%), and most critically, his propensity for mistakes during the final minutes of the game.

In Game 2, after James Harden hit a 3 pointer to bring the Rockets to within 3 with just over 30 seconds left in the game, Lin committed a foul on Damian Lillard, a career 85.9% FT shooter, who promptly hit 2 free throws to ice the game. Whether Lin was instructed to commit the foul by Rockets coach Kevin McHale rather than defend for a final shot seems uncertain, though it appeared that a few Rockets teammates were upset at Lin for committing the foul.

In Game 3, Lin missed a critical lay-up with 48 seconds left in regulation, then failed to get back on defensive in enough time to stop a Nicolas Batum transition three that tied the game–in essence, a 5 point swing. In overtime, Lin partially redeemed himself by hustling for a loose ball and finding a wide-open Troy Daniels for a game-winning three. However, on the two offensive possessions prior to Daniels’ heroic shot, Lin had turned the ball over, and missed a make-able  3 point shot. Had the Rockets lost, much more would have been made of Lin’s mistakes in Game 3.

Which of course brings us to Game 4. With 33 seconds remaining in regulation and the Rockets up two, 104-102, Lin rebounds a Nicolas Batum miss under the Blazers’ basket, and rather than call timeout or pass to a more capable ballhandler, he proceeds to dribble up the sideline (despite being flanked by Blazers defenders) and lose the ball on a great defensive play by Mo Williams. Williams then feeds the ball inside to Wesley Matthews, who misses a contested layup. The ball comes loose, Lin manages to get a hand on the ball, but unlike at the end of Game 3 he is unable to secure it, and instead Damian Lillard comes away with the prize. Lillard kicks the ball out to a wide-open Mo Williams, who promptly head-fakes an overzealous Jeremy Lin and proceeds to swish a game-tying three pointer. Prior to this key play, Lin had also missed a driving layup similar to the one missed in Game 3. The Rockets go on to lose in overtime, with Lin sitting on the bench for most of the extra period.

Now despite how critical this piece sounds, I want you to know that I am a huge fan of Jeremy Lin. I followed him since his Harvard days, when I first heard about him during his Junior year. After Lin went undrafted and got cut by his hometown Warriors, then by the Rockets, I never expected him to make it this far and this long into the league. I never doubted his ability, but I never thought he would get the opportunity in a sport that, let’s face it, has unfairly stereotyped Asians and Asian-Americans.

As a fan and a lifelong lover of the game of basketball, I really, really, REALLY (get it yet?) want Lin to succeed. I want him to be the player he showed himself to be during Linsanity–and more. I want him to lead the Rockets deep into the playoffs and possibly a title. However, a few things have become apparent during his brief 2 seasons here:

1. He and James Harden cannot really coexist on the court.

2. He and Coach McHale are not a good fit, either.

3. He still hasn’t learned to shoot a consistent mid-range or 3 point jump shot.

4. He still hasn’t developed a consistent left hand dribble.

5. He has lost a lot of his confidence and “recklessness” that brought him his contract and global spotlight.

All in all, it’s hard for me to see Lin remaining in Houston next year, especially with a $15 million dollar price tag weighing on the minds of Rockets’ management. Even if Lin bounces back and leads the Rockets deep into the playoffs, he might still be gone next year, as the game of basketball is a business first. Where as points 1 and 2 can be fixed with a change of scenery, I’m concerned about points 3, 4, and especially 5. Lin’s inability to consistently hit an outside shot severely limits his effectiveness on offense, as defenders can simply play him to drive most of the time and go underneath on screens or picks. Most disconcerting is that he seems to be over-thinking things and making mental mistakes that he normally wouldn’t make. Maybe it’s due to the pressure of living up to a big contract, or the fact that both the team’s head coach and number one star, (McHale and Harden) seem to lack trust in Lin. Or maybe it’s because he has something to lose, which he didn’t during his stint with the Knicks pre-Linsanity. Overall, something just isn’t right with Jeremy Lin, and he may be running out of time to fix it. The league has a short memory, and is not kind to backup point guards with big contracts.

As Lin said himself in an ESPN interview during his breakout run with the Knicks: “You can’t prove yourself one time, you can’t have one good game and everyone one be like, ‘He’s the real deal.’ It has to be over and over and over again.”

Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Houston.

Earlier this week, I heard about the whole dust-up regarding Stephen Colbert’s alleged racist tweets about the Asian community. Yes, the tweet by the Colbert camp that triggered this whole thing did look really bad–when taken out of context. After seeing everything in its original context, it became clearly obvious that this was really meant as a satire, and that the whole controversy and subsequent #CancelColbert protest was a big broo-ha-ha over nothing.

There’s a great article written by Greg Watanabe about the whole Colbert incident and its reaction here: http://www.8asians.com/2014/03/31/the-cancelcolbert-kerfluffle-why-suey-park-got-it-wrong/

Remember when the FOBs were the dorky ones?

(For the uninformed, FOB is short for “Fresh off the Boat.”)

Back in the day, the FOBby kids were the ones we Asian-Americans made fun of. The FOBs were the ones who dressed in really dorky clothes, had question grooming and hygiene, and possessed a singular dedication only to academics. FOBs never dated, only married–via a family friend introduction or other arrangement.

But sometime during the past decade-and-a-half I started to realize that yes, we Asian-Americans, were the real dorks. On a superficial level, the FOBs were the ones who dressed trendier (albeit slightly metro–but again, that was coming into fashion), were taller, had better style, and slightly more swag. The Japanese and Korean FOBs led the way, followed by the Taiwanese and HK FOBs, with the Chinese FOBs bringing up the tail end of the pack. However, the real difference between Asian-Americans and FOBS lay not in their appearance, but in their acceptance of themselves and their own cultures. While most Asian-Americans I’ve met, particularly those who’ve grown up in the suburbs, experienced some kind of identity crisis and/or racial prejudice growing up, FOBs were much more comfortable with who they were. Granted, FOBs tended to be a lot more insular, however, they understood that they were foreign, and identified as such without hesitation.

Asian-Americans, on the other hand, and I’m speaking as a general collective whole of course, must balance adhering to two different, sometimes contradictory, cultures. That’s why, in my observation, a lot of Asian-Americans are culturally in no-man’s (or no-woman’s) land. They are neither fully Asian nor American, but a juxtaposition of the two. And this unsteady merger leads to the phenomena known as “bananas” (white on the inside, yellow on the outside), and the self-imposed exiled, angry Asian-American.

And this is where I say Asian-Americans should take a page out of the FOBs playbook and just be cool and accept who you are, culturally speaking. Yes, you are Asian. Yes, you are American. Yes, you will sometimes deal with cultural and racial conflict. Fuck the naysayers. Focus on yourself, your family, your friends, and others close to you. Focus on your being, not your identity. An identity can be a prison as much as it can be a source of pride. Be yourself, dude. Just be yourself.

Steve Park

Steve Park

Nearly 17 years ago Korean-American actor Steve Park posted a manifesto regarding his struggles and racial incidents as an actor in Hollywood. In particular, he went into detail about how his experience on the set of the then hugely popular Friends was rather unfortunate, to say the least. Today, Park’s piece still rings true, though roles and industry treatment have improved somewhat for Asian-American actors. Having dabbled a bit in the tv/film industry, I can say that while the number of casting calls for roles specifically seeking Asian-American male actors is more or less zero, this shouldn’t deter any aspiring AAM actors from pursuing their goals. Just do your own self-respect a favor and don’t turn into the next Ken Jeong.

Read Steve Park’s Mission Statement here.

Mary Han

Mary Han

There’s “a special place in hell waiting for her.”

Those were the words reserved for Mary Han, a high-profile Albuquerque attorney who was discovered dead in her car garage on the morning of November 18th, 2010. The cause of death was immediately ruled a suicide, but a number of troubling allegations rose to the surface in the aftermath of her death. For starters, Han’s family claimed that a number of items went missing from Han’s residence, including a laptop and $100,000 worth of heirloom jewelry. Most bewildering was the fact that Han’s car had an auto shut-off feature that was intended to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, however this feature had not been activated. The car was also not running when it was discovered, and its gas tank was still half-full.

From: Alibi.com

When Cmdr. Paul Feist arrived at the scene, he immediately declared it a suicide, according to the lawsuit, though he was not the field investigator and was therefore acting in violation of APD standard operating procedures. People entered her home and rifled through her belongings without a search warrant, which would be required if the death were considered a suicide, the lawsuit states. Two rings that she wore every day—family heirlooms valued at more than $100,000—went missing.

Feist would be promoted a month later to deputy chief of the Investigative Bureau. He led the inquiry into the still unsolved West Mesa murders.

Details of Han’s death are inconsistent with suicide, the lawsuit states: she lacked the cherry red coloring associated with carbon monoxide poisoning; she had paid off a loan the day before she died and inquired about another; Han was wearing her glasses when she was found by Kennedy, which she only wore to read.

Sgt. Thomas Grover wrote in his police report that it was odd the car windows were rolled down, because in the six instances he’d seen of carbon monoxide-based suicide, the windows were up and the doors locked. “… Based on my training and experience, there was nothing that suggested this was an active effort of suicide on the part of Ms. Han,” he wrote.

From: The Albuquerque Journal

So what had happened to Han, a 53-year-old woman described as vibrant, happy, healthy, driven and anything but depressed?

Wallbro, who spoke to her sister on that last evening as she did every evening, said Han was jovial about plans to travel to California to visit her daughter for the holidays.

APD Sgt. Tom Grover, who called Han his best friend and big sister, said he spoke with Han around 11 that night. The two had made plans to work out at the gym around 6 the next morning and then later have lunch at Farina Pizzeria to celebrate Grover’s recent success as a student at the University of New Mexico.

Han had complained about a toothache but was otherwise in great shape. She ran several miles a day and was obsessed with developing six-pack abs, Grover said.

[…]

No suicide note was found, and there was no despondency or history of depression.

Shortly following Han’s death, a police officer from a Facebook group titled “Fans of the Albuququerque Police Department” left the afore-mentioned comment regarding Han’s special destination in the afterlife.

In August 2013, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King announced that Han’s death should be changed from “suicide” to “undetermined,” and that the initial investigation had been severely botched by the Albuquerque police department. His exact words, as taken from The Albuquerque Journal, were:

“We have completed our review of the circumstances and APD’s handling of the death scene, and we found that it was terribly mishandled due to inappropriate directions from high-ranking police and civilian administrators with the City of Albuquerque,” King said. “I believe the nature of Mary Han’s death should be properly changed from suicide to undetermined.”

Whether any corrective or punitive measures will be handed down to the Albuquerque police department seems highly unlikely. Currently, Han’s family is embroiled in a civil lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque, one city attorney David Tourek has deemed “frivolous.” As for now, the true story behind Han’s mysterious death ever emerges remains yet another secret tucked away in the New Mexico desert.

Chris Tang Oak Hill

Chris Tang

Last year during the height of Linsanity I came across a video titled “15-Year Old Chris Tang could be next Jeremy Lin! 6’3 PG with bounce, handles, a stroke, and vision!” What I saw in the video was an athletic, scoring point guard with hops, strength, and a sweet finger roll who just so happened to be Asian. Compared to a 15 year-old Jeremy Lin, the kid looked like he had more potential.

That fall, Tang transferred to legendary Oak Hill Academy, which was known for spurning out future NBA stars such as Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Jackson, and Carmelo Anthony. Oh yeah, and Kevin Durant even spent some time there. The pieces all seemed to be in the making for an heir apparent to the Asian point-guard throne.

Even Bill Simmon’s post-ESPN-but-not-really project Grantland got involved, possibly thrusting the 15 year-old Tang into the national consciousness, at least amongst the sports pop culture enthusiasts. The piece also showed the sobering reality of Tang’s situation, however–that he was no more than a bench warmer on a team stacked with bigger, faster, stronger, and more professional-ready prospects. A few snippets of live game footage showed us that Tang, after all, was a kid who wasn’t even old enough to legally drive.

The other thing that stood out from the Tang piece was the obvious fact that he was a FOB, or “fresh off the boat,” and was still adjusting heavily to life in America–and not just America, but rural small-town America. Whereas Lin had grown up in Palo Alto, one of America’s few suburbs that also featured a strong Asian-American population, and been anointed leader of his state title winning team, Tang struggled to find himself both on and off the court.

During this time, every few months or so I started checking news outlets for any updates on Tang. There was very little in terms of results. No stories about Tang leading Oak Hill to a stirring victory, or even playing an integral bench role during a win. Suprisingly, even the blog Asian Athletes couldn’t offer much but the same pieces posted earlier by Grantland. Then last month, I noticed that Chris Tang was no longer on Oak Hill Academy’s basketball roster for the upcoming season.

Could this be it? Was it already over? Was Chris Tang just a flash-in-the-pan story capitalized from the whole Lin-sanity thing, which by the way, was starting to die itself?

Fortunately, after some digging I finally found an update on the whereabouts of Chris Tang. For starters, the good news was that he was still playing basketball. But for better-or-worse, my suspicions were correct–he was no longer at prestigious Oak Hill Academy. Where was he? Of all places, the Canary Islands.

According to this thread at YaoMingMania.com, Tang had moved on to the Canarias Basketball Academy, a relatively new basketball school that proudly proclaimed itself the “Top Basketball Academy in Europe!” (Well, at least on its website it does.) Various smidgens of information such as the occasional tweet and YouTube clip confirm that Tang did land at Canarias. What remains to be seen, however, is Tang’s future. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to deal with the pressures of being the next Asian-American hope now that he’s removed himself from the Oak Hill hype. However, the question still remains… can the kid actually play on a highly competitive professional or even Division I college level?

Right now, the picture looks dimmer than it 18 months, when Tang was in the national spotlight and a trip to Oak Hill was on the horizon. Whether he’s actually improved enough to a level where he can potentially compete for an NBA roster seems unlikely at the moment, but then again, no one (except for a few faithful) thought that Jeremy Lin would ever make it in the NBA. In that case, maybe a comparison to Jeremy Lin wouldn’t be the worst thing for Chris Tang after all.