Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin responded Friday to comments made by former Nets player Kenyon Martin, who criticized Lin’s hair, which is styled in dreadlocks.
Martin, who played forward for the team and retired from the NBA in 2015, claimed Lin’s hairstyle choice is cultural appropriation.
“Do I need to remind this ... boy that his last name (is) Lin? Like, come on, let’s stop this. These people. There is no way possible he would’ve made it on one of our teams with that (expletive) going on on his head,” Martin said in a now-deleted video that was posted on Instagram. “Come on. Somebody really needs to tell him, like (alright), we get it. We get it, you want to be black. We get it, but the last name is Lin.”
After the post gained attention online, Martin posted a follow up video, which he later deleted.
“That man (is) grown. That man can rock whatever hairstyle he want to rock. That don’t mean I have to like it or agree with it,” he said. “Second of all, I’m grown. I can say whatever I want to say it about. It ain’t about race. It ain’t about none of that. Grow up, people, it was a joke, but I don’t like it. I don’t agree with it, so it is what it is.”
Lin, 29, later responded on the post.
“Hey man, it’s all good. You definitely don’t have to like my hair and (are) definitely entitled to your opinion,” he wrote. “Actually I (am) legit grateful (for) you sharing 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 growing up.”
Lin later wrote an article for The Players Tribune explaining his “journey” to getting dreadlocks. In the piece he said he was worried about cultural appropriation when he was considering maintaining dreadlocks, but multiple black friends and Nets members encouraged him to get the style -- as long as he wasn’t ill-intentioned.
Lin said that as an Asian-American, he has experienced his culture being misunderstood and has been hurt by incorrect images of Asians and Asian-Americans in society -- he never meant to do the same for another culture.
“I never want to do that to another culture,” he wrote. “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. We need more empathy, more compassion and less judgment. That takes actual work and communication. So let’s start now.”
Lin admonished fans who responded to Martin with cruel or racially insensitive comments, saying, “I don't think that's the right way to go about it ... I heard people were saying the 'n' word on his page. That's not what I stand for and that's not helping us move in the (unified) direction we want to move in.”
Lin invited fans and critics to weigh in with thoughtful opinions about his hairstyle on his social media platforms.