By Traci Tamura, CNN Senior Producer
"Linsanity" has arrived on the West Coast of the United States. All of the excitement surrounding a California-grown rising NBA star, Jeremy Lin, has hit a fever pitch – especially within the Asian-American community. The ethnic pride to see the first Asian-American to break into the starting line-up of an NBA team is simply LINTASTIC to watch.
I was also born and raised in California, and have been playing basketball since elementary school. I played point guard in high school, but got my start playing for an Asian-American basketball team coached by my father years earlier. California is home to several thousand youngsters playing in Asian-American basketball leagues. These leagues have been around since the 1930s and are as popular as ever today. It gives the kids a sense of cultural community and camaraderie.
My own two daughters started playing on their year-round girls Asian-American basketball teams in first grade. The girls have spent a fair amount of time watching Mom run up and down the court playing basketball on weekends with girlfriends, most of whom are also mothers with kids playing on these teams.
The racial pride that has spread through Asian-American basketball players is almost beyond words. To actually have an Asian-American role model playing and winning games for an NBA team is groundbreaking. And to finally be able to see a face like their own playing in the big show, on prime time TV, guarding the likes of Kobe Bryant is unprecedented.
For some Asian-American kids, their dreams have just burst wide open with Jeremy Lin's explosion onto the NBA scene. They can now envision themselves actually playing in the NBA. Whether or not that's a real probability is not the point. The hope, inspiration and possibility are enough for them.
As my third grade son says, "Jeremy Lin, he's amazing." And he would love to be like Jeremy. But, not everyone has bought into "Linsanity" at my house. When I asked my basketball-playing fifth grade daughter what she thought of Jeremy Lin she said, "Who's that?" Can't win them all. But Jeremy is proving that Asian's got game ... something I always knew.