Editorial: For Cho and Lin — glass ceiling, what glass ceiling?

There are two people we are completely enamored with. Coincidentally, they are both sports figures.

Local guy Rich Cho has been named the Portland Trail Blazers new general manager. Also, Jeremy Lin is signing with the Golden State Warriors.

What is notable is that the few Asian pro basketball players are mostly Asians from Asia, not the United States. Lin will be following the likes of Wataru Misaka (who played three games in 1947–1948) as one of the rare full-blooded American-born Asians in the NBA.

In reading news coverage about Cho and Lin, two traits these men share struck us. In realizing their dreams, both were extremely patient and hardworking. They weren’t the flashiest people or superstars in the limelight.

Instead, they quietly toiled away at their craft, honing it and believing that they could achieve greatness.

There is no doubt that they had to be patient and hardworking, as they were both aiming to break through the glass ceiling in a sport that hasn’t seen many Asians.

NBA fans aren’t used to seeing Asian Americans on the team or in management — some fans have not been positive about the idea, as Lin previously stated in an interview with us. Both Cho and Lin have had to overcome prejudices in addition to refining their game or working at their career.

Cho had inauspicious beginnings. He was born in Burma during a period of political unrest; he immigrated to the United States as a child in 1968. Cho’s family didn’t have anything, he told The Columbian on July 21.

The family was on welfare, and his father worked the graveyard shift at a 7-11 for 20 years, supporting his family. Cho also worked various odd jobs when he was young to help the family.

Fast-forward to decades later — after he’s earned a university degree, worked as an engineer, earned a law degree, and found a place with the Seattle SuperSonics — and his journey has finally culminated with him becoming the first Asian American general manager of an NBA team.

Lin has an underdog story of his own.

He is the guy who was continually overlooked — but he never gave up. Though a star athlete on his high school team in Palo Alto, Calif., he surprisingly didn’t receive a sports scholarship from any Division I college. He opted to attend Harvard, where he shined on the court. Lin was a good bet for the NBA draft this year, but fans were shocked when the draft came and his name was not called.

But through it all, Lin never stopped working at his dream. After the disappointment of not getting drafted, he joined Dallas for a mini-camp, and there was talk of him joining a summer league or playing overseas.
So we’re ecstatic that Lin caught a break and will finally play on an NBA team.

With people like Cho and Lin achieving their dreams, the rest of us don’t have an excuse for not achieving ours. It’s easy to say, “We can’t do it because it’s never been done before,” and to give up. But as Lin and Cho have taught us, we should change our attitude and instead say, “We can do it! Even if it’s never been done before!” ♦

5 Responses to “Editorial: For Cho and Lin — glass ceiling, what glass ceiling?”

  1. ben l. says:

    This editorial unfortunately reinforces what Asian Americans have long understood about American culture: WORK HARDER FOR LESS OPPORTUNITY than white/jewish/black/latino/native american/gay/female Americans.

    Lin was famously given fewer opportunities because of perceptions around his race. Despite leading his team to the state high school championship, being state Div II player of the year, and an All-California player he did not receive a single D-1 scholarship offer, not even from his hometown school of Stanford.

    After leading Harvard to its best finish in 40 years and being a finalist for both the Wooden (player of the year) and Cousy (point guard of the year) awards he went UNDRAFTED by the NBA. At every level Lin has encountered racial hardship and bias… yet you point to him as a sign that the glass ceiling no longer exists.

    There are extraordinary individuals that transcend the glass ceiling through undeniable talent or ambition, luck or fortune. That doesn’t mean that hundreds or thousands of like talents will NOT make it because of that ceiling. Both Lin and Cho are extraordinary individuals who are lucky to have been in excellent situations… Cho for example would not have been given this opportunity if not for his ties to both Kevin Pritchard and Kevin Durant.

    Not everyone is so lucky

  2. JChou says:

    I agree with you but there has been progress in the corporate world I feel, with more minorities (Asians included) in managerial roles. that said, the athletic world is still vastly different as people are so ingrained (and hostile) to the idea that Asians can play much of any role in strength/power-oriented sports…..

    what would happen if a black/Jewish ball player is constantly called n*gger or monkey? wouldn’t you think there’d be some intense media firestorm?

  3. Observer157 says:

    I completely disagree with the conclusion of this article.

    There clearly still is a glass ceiling for Asian Americans, whether it be for corporate management, in athletics, or in media and entertainment. Over 1/3 of Silicon Valley is made of Asian American professionals, but only 6% are in management. The only justifications and defenses for this, are the same tired (prejudiced) stereotypes about Asians.

    Even for Cho or Jeremy Lin, they basically made it against all odds, and weren’t given the benefit of the doubt, like their Black or White counterparts were. Cho served as an assistant GM for 10 years, making Oklahoma City a winning team, earning this GM role at age 45, when multiple other White GM’s were hired at age 30, oftentimes with less qualifications, experience, or education. Same thing with Jeremy Lin – a White or Black player with his credentials and success would have gotten a Division-I scholarship offer from a college (Lin received none), and probably would have been drafted in the last 1st round of the NBA draft. Jeremy Lin barely made it, and only because he got one opportunity to shine against the #1 pick in the draft.

    To take these two and now act like there still isn’t discrimination, prejudice, and a stacked double standard against Asian Americans, is pretty ridiculous… It’s important to keep working and striving, but to not dismiss the realities of America for Asian Americans.

  4. Observer157 says:

    I completely disagree with the conclusion of this article.

    There clearly still is a glass ceiling for Asian Americans, whether it be for corporate management, in athletics, or in media and entertainment. Over 1/3 of Silicon Valley is made of Asian American professionals, but only 6% are in management. The only justifications and defenses for this, are the same tired (prejudiced) stereotypes about Asians.

    Even for Cho or Jeremy Lin, they basically made it against all odds, and weren’t given the benefit of the doubt, like their Black or White counterparts were. Cho served as an assistant GM for 10 years, earning this GM role at age 45, when multiple other White GM’s were hired, oftentimes with less qualifications, experience, or education. Same thing with Jeremy Lin – a White or Black player with his credentials and success would have gotten a Division-I scholarship offer from a college, and probably would have been drafted in the last 1st round of the NBA draft. Jeremy Lin barely made it, and only because he got one opportunity to shine against the #1 pick in the draft.

    To take these two and now act like there still isn’t discrimination, prejudice, and a stacked double standard against Asian Americans, is pretty ridiculous…

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