Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin had a kind, thoughtful response that slipped in a subtle dig to former NBA forward Kenyon Martin after Martin criticized Lin for growing dreadlocks.
In an Instagram video that now appears to have been deleted, Martin, a former member of the New Jersey Nets, addressed Lin’s dreadlocks, saying, “Do I need to remind this damn boy that his last name Lin?”
Martin continued, saying: “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.”
Martin said he would not have let a player with “that bull—- going on on his head” onto one of his teams when he was a player.
Lin responded on Instagram (in a tweet that also seems to have been deleted), saying he was appreciative of Martin even commenting on it (via ESPN):
“Hey man, it’s all good. You definitely don’t have to like my hair and [are] definitely entitled to your opinion. 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.”
As many noted, the final line seemed to be a subtle dig at Martin.
Lin's response to Kenyon was so damn good. Overlooked is the "I had your poster on my wall," which also means "You're old and washed."
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) October 6, 2017
However, Lin wasn’t just purely trying to make fun of Martin. On Thursday he also wrote a post for The Players’ Tribune explaining that his sometimes extravagant hairstyles were a source of fun for him and a challenge to not care what people think.
Lin also addressed cultural appropriation:
“This process started out about hair, but it’s turned into something more for me … It’s easy to take things that we enjoy from other cultures – that’s one of the coolest things about a melting-pot society like ours. But I think we have to be careful that taking doesn’t become all we do. With all the division, political turmoil and senseless violence in our society right now, we need to talk to each other more than ever.”
Likewise, Lin addressed the situation after a Nets preseason game on Thursday, saying that it shouldn’t be about “winning” a fight against Martin or picking one side or the other.
“At the end of the day, he said what he said, but I’m not really that offended,” Lin said. “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 can have a different viewpoint.”
According to ESPN, Martin posted a second video to Instagram (which also seems to have been deleted), saying his initial comments were a joke. He added: “That man grown, that man can rock whatever hairstyle he want to rock … That don’t mean I have to like it or agree with it.”
Lin said in his Players Tribune article: “Again, I may not have gotten it right with my idea to get dreads. But I hope that this is a start, not an end, to more dialogue about our differences.”