Lin’s Star Rises, while Iverson’s Burns Out

How do you burn through more than $200 million?

Question: How do you burn through $154 million? If you weren’t investing with Bernie Madoff, the obvious answer is being a Black athlete in America.

 Allen Iverson, once known as “The Answer” – to Michael Jordan – was supposed to revolutionize the game of basketball for the better in the 1990s. Having been a “one-and-done” student-athlete at Georgetown (the formerly prestigious Washington D.C. private school immortalized in St. Elmo’s Fire, which quickly became a Petri dish for social engineering courtesy of Black radical head basketball coach John Thompson), Iverson was one of the first Black athletes to fully embrace the thug lifestyle.

Sporting a fully tattooed body – which was once completely airbrushed when Iverson appeared on the cover of the official NBA magazine – Iverson traveled with a huge Black posse from his hometown of Hampton, Virginia. Before jetting off to Georgetown and the NBA, it was in Hampton that Iverson would spend four months in jail after he and his friends assaulted white people.
Don’t worry. Whitey deserved it for allegedly using “racial epithets.”
Though he only went to school for one year, Iverson would earn more than $154 million during his NBA career. This number does not include endorsement money – such as a $50 million lifetime contract he signed with Reebok – but represents income from his NBA contracts.
When his NBA career ended, he had to resort to playing internationally to make some quick money to pay for his lavish lifestyle.
Now comes the all too inevitable news that Iverson is bankrupt, his bank account frozen for unpaid debts.
Could a greater symbol for the hollow type of ghetto basketball he represents – sagging shorts, street ball style, and a complete integration with “hip hop” culture – be found than the bankrupt Iverson? The NBA is dying league because the owners and ESPN (which basically subsidizes the league) went all-in on the thug game epitomized by Iverson.
Sure, he didn’t choke out a white coach (as Latrell Sprewell did to P.J. Carlesimo), but one look at Iverson – or 80 percent of the current NBA roster – and your average white fan would be hard-pressed to convince themselves that he wouldn’t do it too.
Enter Jeremy Lin, the undrafted rookie free agent for the New York Knicks. In a league dominated by Black athletes, Lin represents the “yellow peril”: a Harvard educated Asian-American basketball sensation, Lin’s race made him standout in college (less than .5 percent of Division I basketball players are Asian) where he was on the receiving end of racial taunts from opposing fans.
No, unlike in European soccer matches where white fans throw bananas at black players, no one tossed a TI- 83calculator at Lin, hoping that he’d do their calculus homework while he put up big offensive numbers for Harvard.
Because sports fans have been conditioned to believe only Black athletes can excel in anything remotely worthy of being called collegiate or professional basketball, any game that has too many white athletes is somehow not legitimate. Toss in an Asian player (outside of the genetic experiment Yao Ming) and the lack of Blackness on the court becomes almost unbearable.
Lin: an undrafted graduate of Harvard, dominating the NBA. He’s Asian too

Perhaps this is why so many Black people have publically commented on the rise of Lin, who has become a scoring and assist machine for the Knicks in this strike-shortened NBA season. Like the 2000 movie The Replacements (about the NFL strike of 1987) some fans might find it hard to believe an Asian (Taiwanese to be exact) can compete with the “superior” Black athletes in the NBA and that, perhaps, the normal players might still be on strike.

Or in court.
But Lin has been the exact shot-in-the-arm the NBA has needed for years, an athlete capable of energizing casual fans and people who were turned off from investing in the league by Black players like Iverson.
More importantly, potential new fans who found the garish nature of the predominately Black NBA a turn-off see in Lin an athlete completely different then what ESPN promotes on a daily basis.
Sure, Floyd Mayweather – who will soon serve jail time for assault – can make fun of Lin’s popularity for racial reasons; sure, noted Black sports writer Jason Whitlock can make jokes about Lin’s lack of penis size (should we ask J. Phillip Rushton what large penis size correlates to for the majority Black NBA?); and yes, Madison Square Garden (MSG) network can start a mini-controversy for showing an image Lin’s face breaking out of a fortune cookie, but all of this misses the bigger point:
For better or worse, professional athletes in America are role models. For far too long, abominable characters like Iverson have represented the NBA athlete, reaping huge financial rewards – though most do lose those riches – while the audience they inherited from Magic Johnson and Larry Bird has dissipated.
A non-drafted Asiatic scoring in an NBA game? And he graduated from Harvard? What is this, the script for Hoosiers 2: Tokoyo Drift?
Lin’s run as energetic point-guard for the Knick’s might not last until the end of the month, but his success shows what all of America – all of the world – is waiting for the NBA to provide: a non-Black athlete to get behind and support.
Nike is even considering signing Lin to a shoe deal (would Chinese laborers who produce them for a $1 fight over them as Black people did the Air Jordan’s across the nation on Christmas Eve Eve 2011?) and he will even appear in the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest.
Linsanity will reach new levels if he wins, like when the very white Brent Barry won the contest in the1990s, as this event was specifically created to showcase Black people’s adroitness at jumping.  
But remember this: one too many bad apples like Iverson have directly led to the stagnation and decline of the league. And this is a league that has been desperately trying to break into the huge market that China offers, opening new revenue streams to a league whose primary stars look suspiciously like A&E First 48 regulars. Worse, with each Black-on-black murder in America, two potential fans of the league are lost (one to prison, the other, sadly, losing their life).
Problem: Lin is from Taiwan. The Chinese aren’t exactly fans of that island nation.
As one star burns out, a new one rises. Iverson represented the very reason the NBA is in such financial troubles. Lin represents – like the new look LA Lakers – a way out for the NBA to remove itself from the Black hole it finds itself in now.
Odd are, if you gave Lin a huge contract – like the Indiana Pacers white journeyman center Jeff Foster – it wouldn’t disappear in the blink of the eye, but more than likely start to earn high interest rates immediately.
So of course race plays a huge part in the power of Linomania, though for the reason no one is mentioning. Your average fan long ago got turned-off by the Blackness of the NBA (what we dubbed here the “Fab Fiving” of the NCAA and NBA); your casual fan was frightened off by that same Blackness.

The Blackness of Iverson. In a way, a guy like Lin is “the answer” to the original “answer.”

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