Asian-American basketball player Jeremy Lin for the New York Knicks has been making plenty of waves in the NBA the last couple of weeks. After several unexpected heroic performances, including derailing the ever-dominant Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, Lin was an overnight sensation, suddenly making the Knicks a viable competitor for the NBA title. However, when the impressive streak did end, an ESPN reporter decided to commemorate the occasion with a rather controversial headline. As the headline for the segment leading into talking about the Knicks finally dropping a game to the New Orleans Hornets, ESPN dubbed the night as “Chink in the Armor.” The anchor even used the phrase verbally in the segment.
Now, the argument can be made that this is a common saying, but to choose it for this particular situation at this particular time was definitely not a great decision by the writer or the editors that allowed the headline to pass through and actually make it to live television. Whether the wording was an attempt at humor, an actual derogatory slur toward Jeremy Lin, or purely an accident, ESPN’s team of copyeditors should surely have noticed the insinuation of the headline before it made it into the world’s living rooms. ESPN was quick to respond. All references to the segment were immediately taken offline and the reporter that coined the article’s headline was promptly terminated.
The real question here is why more Asian-Americans did not voice any outrage at this. All the criticism has come from other news organizations and the general American public, but no celebrity Asian-Americans have made any statements regarding the unfortunate incident. Imagine the scene if ESPN had used a derogatory phrase regarding African-Americans as a lead-in to a sports news segment.