When Boxer Floyd Mayweather wrote on his Twitter account Monday that ‘Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian,’ and then later followed up with a tweet saying, ‘I’m speaking my mind on behalf of other NBA players. They are programmed to be politically correct and will be penalized if they speak up,’ I thought it made sense to ask some of the 76ers what they felt about Mayweather’s comments rather than let him speak for them.
All-Star forward Andre Iguodala said that Lin’s race - he’s Taiwanese - does factor in to the attention he’s receiving. Without detracting from Lin, Iguodala said that because the league is majority African-American, if Lin were black it would not create a similar stir.
“When you see the majority doing it you say, ‘ah, he’s been doing it since he was a kid. It’s in his blood, whatever,’” Iguodala said. “You see him doing it and you say, ‘you’re serious?’ It’s kind of like seeing a black hockey player doing well. Race does play a role in it but at the same time you have to respect it, that’s how I feel. You have to respect it whether you like it or not. It’s a feel-good story.”
On Tuesday, Lin hit a game-winning 3-pointer to beat the Toronto Raptors, becoming the first NBA player to record at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first five NBA starts since 1970.
Asked if he thought there was any similarity between what Mayweather wrote and when Dennis Rodman in 1987 called Larry Bird overrated ‘because he’s white,’ Iguodala laughed.
“Larry Bird was different. That’s not on the same planet. Larry Bird had game,” Iguodala said.
Leading scorer Lou Williams did not dismiss outright what Mayweather said.
“Floyd has always been outspoken and in some aspects he makes a point,” Williams said. “I don’t know if it’s his position to speak out about it. It’s a unique situation. It’s no surprise that the NBA is made up of mostly African-American athletes; that’s public knowledge. So for him to be Asian and to have the success that he’s having I’m sure it’s a new thing and it helps that he’s actually putting the numbers up.
“Floyd said it and he kind of opened it up for discussion,” Williams continued. “To us, he’s a basketball player. Any time you make a basketball team you have the opportunity to be successful. I think he’s taking full advantage of his opportunity no matter what color he is, and I think it’s a bigger story maybe because he’s Asian.”
Iguodala said the most important thing is to determine whether Lin is a flash in the pan, something we’ll all have a better understanding of by the end of the season.
“He’s only six games in the league. Game 30, game 40, that’s where you can kind of see where a guy’s at,” he said.
Lin’s success, said Iguodala, is good for everyone involved, from the fans, to the players, to the league. Since Lin made his first start for the Knicks on Feb. 4, Madison Square Garden, Inc., the parent company of the Knicks, has seen its market value jump 6%, adding another $139 million to the value of the company, according to Forbes Magazine.
According to Kenneth Wisnefski, social media expert and founder/CEO of WebiMax, a Google search for “Jeremy Lin” returns over 2,100,000 search results and over 6,700 news sources/articles.
“He’s bringing the league great attention,” Iguodala said.