This season, the Nets point guard is going with something more dramatic. Lin announced in a Players Tribune article that he plans to sport dreadlocks this season and wanted thoughts on it.
I still wasn't sure. A recent conversation I had with Savannah Hart, a Nets staff member who's African-American, really resonated with me. I told her about my thought process — how I was really unsure about getting dreads because I was worried I'd be appropriating black culture. She said that if it wasn't my intention to be dismissive of another culture, then maybe it could be an opportunity to learn about that culture.
At the beginning of this article, I said I wanted to hear what you think. I truly do.
Because honestly, I may be wrong here. Maybe one day I'll look back and laugh at myself, or even cringe. I don't have the answers. But I hope the thing you take away from what I'm writing is not that everyone should feel free to get braids or dreads — or that one gesture can smooth over the real misunderstandings that exist in our society around race and cultural identity. Not at all.
Jeremy Lin got a mix of responses to his new hairstyle, but one stuck out above the rest. In an Instagram video that has since been deleted, former Nets star and current ESPN analyst Kenyon Martin called out what he viewed as cultural appropriation.
"Do I need to remind this damn boy that his last name Lin? Like, come on man. Let's stop this, man, with these people, man. There is no way possible that he would have made it on one of our teams with that bulls--- goin' on on his head. Come on man, somebody need to tell him, like, 'All right bro, we get it. You wanna be black.' Like, we get it. But the last name is Lin."
Jeremy Lin responded back on the now deleted Instagram post.
"Hey man, it's all good. You definitely don't have to like my hair and [are] definitely entitled to your opinion," Lin wrote. "Actually I [am] legit grateful [for] you sharin it [to be honest]. At the end of the day, I appreciate that I have dreads and you have Chinese tattoos [because] I think its a sign of respect. And I think as minorities, the more that we appreciate each other's cultures, the more we influence mainstream society. Thanks for everything you did for the Nets and hoops ... had your poster up on my wall growin up."
Lin expanded on Martin's comments when speaking to reporters following a Nets preseason victory.
"I'd say first I hope that a lot of Asian fans don't go on his page and say racist things to him," Lin said. "That's not the right way to go about it. In a lot of ways to pit us against each other — I won versus Kenyon Martin winning — I don't think that's the right way to go about it. It's not really about winning or losing. The whole point is we're trying to be unified.
"So I feel like even when some people come at me like 'Man, you embarrassed him.' It's like dude, that's not what it's about. That's not the whole point of this discussion is to pit us into two sides and see who wins. The whole point is we all have to get on the same page. We need to have people stop going on his page saying racist things to him, too. That's not OK.
"That's what I would say, at the end of the day, kind of like what I said in my article. We just need to spend a little more time thinking about what we say, thinking about what it's like to be somebody else. At the end of the day he said what he said, but I'm not really that offended. If that's how he thinks that's how he thinks. My job is to be gracious and loving. I think if I can share a little bit of my side, then the next time he might have a different viewpoint. He might have a different viewpoint in a week, but not if my whole fanbase comes behind and calling him - I didn't see it - but I heard people were saying the 'n' word on his page. That's not what I stand for and that's not helping us move in the direction we want to move in.
"And I think both sides need to come together. Then I think like I said in my comment, as minorities if we are able to appreciate it - if Asians are able to be passionate about issues that aren't just related to Asians. If African Americans are able to be passionate about issues that aren't just related to African Americans, I think we'll see something big start to happen. I think we'll be able to influence mainstream society and that's the ultimate goal. All this pitting me against him - or whatever that creates division I can't stand for."
Boy you’re one great guy in my book!!! I got your back any day brother!!! And I love “Fried rice” 💯🤷🏽♂️— R.HollisJefferson (@IAmCHAP24) October 6, 2017
Somehow, even Lil B got involved, putting his infamous "curse" on Martin for what he had to say about Lin.
NBA Kenyon Martin is cursed for his no reason hating on Jermey Lin.. he is cursed until further notice that’s from “ The BasedGod “ - Lil B— Lil B THE BASEDGOD (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) October 6, 2017
Lin has carried himself very professionally throughout this entire process, pleading with his passionate fans not to take out frustration on Martin. He wants to open up a conversation.