2K Sports recently updated New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin’s virtual stats in NBA 2K12. It’s a conservative update reflecting the brevity of Lin’s career to date, giving him a 69 overall rating. In case you haven’t heard, Lin recently began kicking ass for the Knicks, and the new videogame stats are one small nod in our direction. But this is also a bigger story about how a killer game can, nearly overnight, move the race discussion forward, as this Grantland story by Jay Caspian Kang describes.
Here ends the objective segment of this news post.
Here’s an Operation Sports video of Jeremy Lin highlights recreated in NBA 2K12 that almost had me shed a tear.
And here’s a primer on Lin’s startling (very nearly wrote “meteoric”) rise, expressed in crude computer animation by Taiwanese news:
Let’s talk about how these videos are different. The NBA 2K video is a photorealistic digital imitation of Lin, an evocation of the magic he’s so far brought to the actual court. It’s a kind of measured reckoning with the outer limits of human accomplishment. Like many contemporary sports videogames, NBA 2K creates a parallel sports world in which fans may participate as more than faithful watchers. I have to say that without the song, the video kind of pales next to reality and makes the videogame look like a house of cards. Perhaps NBA 2K is better off played, allowing fake Lin to create his own faithless stories (armed with, of course, numbers).
The Taiwan news video is even more aspirational, a picture of Lin as imagined in the hearts of other Taiwanese (including me). In this Dragon Ball Z conception, Lin is able to throw basketballs sheathed in fire, dodge racist slurs, and conjure multiple copies of himself to make rapid successive, perfectly identical slam dunks. He can also transform the Chinese flag into a Taiwanese flag without even looking at it. Although it’s a ludicrous caricature, I have to say that this one feels somehow more accurate to the emotions Lin inspires.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t think he should be on the cover of NBA 2K13.