Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has been having the greatest few weeks ever: he's led the Knicks in a seven-game winning streak, inspired a rash of terrible New York Post headlines, and has most likely been asked to autograph more naked boobs in the past ten days than you've ever seen on RedTube. Yet a mere several hours after the New Orleans Hornets brought the Knicks' winning streak to a close Friday night with an 89-85 victory, ESPN decided to kick Lin — who committed nine turnovers during the game — while he was down by running the story with the appallingly racially insensitive headline, "Chink in the Armor." Which, given Lin's Asian-American background, is quite frankly just a Lin-tolerable Lin-stance of Lin-gregious Lin-gorance (whatever, internet. Don't go rolling your eyes at me. 'Cause I'm sure you could do sooooo much better).
According to Jim Romensko's blog, ESPN.com ran the headline (above) at around 2:30 a.m. on their mobile website and Scorecenter app. Because the term "chink" has historically been used as a slur against people of Asian descent, night owl Twitter users and sports bloggers promptly flipped out over the headline until an editor removed it thirty-five minutes later, at 3:05 a.m. On Saturday morning, ESPN's Director of Communications Kevin Ota posted a statement apologizing for the headline. "We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again," Ota said.
This is not the first time that a major media outlet has run a racially insensitive headline with a story on Jeremy Lin: earlier this week, the New York Post ran "AMASIAN" as a backpage headline after Lin scored a game-winning shot in Toronto, and recently MSG Network ran a photo of a cracked fortune cookie with Lin's face and the message "The Knicks Good Fortune" superimposed on top of it. It's also, remarkably, not the first time that ESPN has run the headline with a story about Asian-American athletes, with sports bloggers pointing out that the website also caught flak for using the same headline in a 2008 story on the U.S. men's basketball team in China.
So here's a thought, American sportswriters: when composing headlines on the accomplishments of Asian-American athletes, it's Lin-advisable to use Mickey Rooney's character in Breakfast at Tiffany's as a model for thoughtful cultural discourse and racial sensitivity. Just a helpful Lin-t (y'know, like hint?….goddammit, you can't please anyone around here).