The Perfect Comeback To A Race-based Comment

I do not know much about the NBA. However, even I have heard about a player named Jeremy Lin. When Lin played for the New York Knicks in 2012, he was such a surprise stand out that year that the entire nation developed, “Linsanity.”  

Lin has not risen to the same popularity he achieved in 2012 and has bounced around from team to team, with five teams in as many years. However, at the end of it all, he still is a professional Asian-American basketball player in the NBA. Making Lin, one of only four Asian American players in the league,  which is pretty impressive. 

Last week another NBA player, Kenyon Martin, spoke out against Lin. This comment did not seem to be the typical banter you see in professional sports, where athletes tease each other for their play or record. Martin made fun of Lin’s for his hairstyle choice. Lin has been sporting dreadlocks as of late and Martin, in a video interview, said that someone should remind Lin that he is not black. 


“Do I need to remind this damn boy that his last name Lin?” Martin said in the video. “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–t goin’ on in 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.”

It would have been easy for Lin to feel upset get angry and strike back out against Martin. However, it seems Lin was able to take a deep breath and think it through before he sent a reply. Lin response definitely won the day. 

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.”

That is a perfect reply. Lin disarms Martin’s insult and then conveys the desire to see more unity among minorities, without being insulting. Whenever someone makes fun of you, they expect a comeback. When you don’t retaliate in kind I can throw that person off a little, and they begin to let down their defenses. 

It is common in the heat of an argument, for people to stop listening for understanding and only to wait for ammunition. A person waiting to counter their opponent does not comprehend what is being said at that moment.  Lin's reply allows him to show the hypocrites in Martin’s comment, who has a tattoo with Chinese charters, without making fun or inflaming the situation. 

Always remember, if something you hear or see triggers you, making you upset and emotional, it is impossible to think clearly while you are in emotional anger.  It is always best to clear your head and remember, what message do I want to convey. Then when you have clarity of message, you can plan your response.  If all else fails, kill them with kindness.