NBA Teams
Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer 49d

Jeremy Lin takes Kenyon Martin jabs on hair, race in stride

NBA, Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin responded to ex-Net Kenyon Martin's suggestion that Lin shouldn't wear dreadlocks because he is Asian American by saying he's grateful Martin shared those thoughts.

Martin posted a video on his Instagram account, saying that Lin's decision to wear dreadlocks is an indication that he wants to "be black."

"Do I need to remind this damn boy that his last name Lin?" Martin said in the video. "Like, come on man. Let's stop this, man, with these people, man. There is no way possible that he would have made it on one of our teams with that bulls--- goin' on on his head. 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."

Lin wrote in a Players' Tribune essay that he has changed hairstyles frequently over the course of his career to take himself out of a "comfort zone" and wrote about his decision to wear dreadlocks. He responded on Instagram to Martin's comments.

"Hey man, it's all good. You definitely don't have to like my hair and [are] definitely entitled to your opinion," Lin wrote. "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."

Martin posted a second video on Instagram, presumably in response to those critical of his original comments, saying that his initial statement was a joke and not about race.

"That man grown, that man can rock whatever hairstyle he want to rock," said Martin, who spent 15 seasons in the NBA. "... That don't mean I have to like it or agree with it."

Lin addressed the idea of cultural appropriation -- the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture -- in his Players' Tribune essay and wrote that he hopes the conversation about cultural differences can continue.

"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," Lin wrote. "We need more empathy, more compassion and less judgment. That takes actual work and communication. So let's start now."

Lin addressed the aftermath of the Martin situation after the Nets' 107-88 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday. He admonished members of his fan base whom he said may have written racially offensive comments to Martin on his Instagram page.

"I think in a lot of ways to pit us against each other, like, 'I won versus Kenyon Martin winning,' I don't think that's the right way to go about it," Lin told reporters. "It's not really about winning or losing. The whole point is that we're trying to be unified so I feel like even sometimes when people come to me and say, 'Oh man, you embarrassed him.' It's like, 'Dude, that's not what this is about.' Right, that's not the whole point of this discussion is to pit it (as) two sides to see who wins. The whole point is that we all have to get on the same page."

Lin added: "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 might have a different viewpoint. He might have a different viewpoint in a week, but not if my whole fanbase comes behind and calling him -- I didn't' see it -- but 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 (new) direction we want to move in."

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