Chip on Shoulder


The 2013 NBA Draft, which took place two nights ago in Brooklyn, will likely go down as the most unpredictable and bizarre draft nights ever. In my decade plus of following the draft, never before had I witness a draft in which the eventual number one pick was someone who didn’t make the top five of any mock draft. In fact, in most years, the who-goes-first drama is usually no drama — as today’s advanced scouting and reporting make determining the best/most-coveted player easy.

And so, a guy whom no one figured would be in the top five, Anthony Bennett, ended up being drafted first, while Nerlens Noel, whom everyone figured was the likeliest top pick, fell all the way down to sixth. He was then traded. That means six teams didn’t want him.

“I’m going to make all those teams pay,” an embarrassed Noel vowed to the media, immediately growing a metaphorical chip on his shoulder.

Sometimes, these chips on shoulders make for good motivation tools, as players such as Paul Pierce and Caron Butler — both drafted 10th, in 1998 and 2002 respectively — have attributed their strong careers to being snubbed on draft night.

Will Noel utilize that chip and become the dominating defensive terror some believe he can, or will his injury history and lack of offensive game hinder his career, like six General Managers apparently believe?

What happened to Noel, along with an article I read from China Daily on interracial dating, reminded me that I, too, have mostly lived with a chip on my shoulder.

The China Daily article in question here. It’s a mostly well-written piece, on interracial marriage, Asian masculinity & what the “Asian fetish” means for both men and women, but one paragraph had me say “Oh hell no” out loud:

“Pairings between Asian women and Caucasian men are twice as common as matches between Caucasian women and Asian men”

I said “oh hell no” because I find it hard to believe — impossible, even — that pairings between Asian women and white men are ONLY twice as common as the Asian men/white women couple.

From a decade of being around major cities like New York, Hong Kong, and LA, I’m pretty sure that ratio is something like 10 to 1, if not 15 to 1 or 20 to 1.

The piece surmises that the reasons for the lopsided ratio — though again, the piece’s claims that the ratio is only 2 to 1 is bullshit — is due to the hypersexualization of Asian women and the emasculation of Asian men in US pop culture.

Though that is a factor, I’m not sure I would pin the blame of “the undesirable Asian male” solely on “American society enforcing stereotypes.” I would like to consider myself a neutral, fair observer of shit, and as such, I believe Asian male themselves deserve partial blame for being desexualized. I mean, every time I ride the subway in Hong Kong, I see local males, hunched over, glued to their phones playing nerdy video games. I go to the gym and local males are doing weaksauce exercises. Later in the lockers, I see them spend, literally, 5 full minutes meticulously fixing individual strands of hair, just so they can have that shitty mop-head look. I see all this and I’m like “holy fuck, if I was a chick or a gay dude, I’d rather bang a white guy too.”

Anyway, I’m not going to get into exactly why white men — men of all races, really — are so attracted to Asian women while Asian men generally don’t have that same appeal to white women. There is no definitive answer to such a question and it is something I’ve accepted as fact long ago, like one of those “it is what it is” things in life, like why dogs are friendly and why we like ice cream and shit.

I’m bringing all this up because like I said earlier, I am someone with a chip on my shoulder. That whole “Asian females can date whomever but we remain segregated” thing along with my blue-collar family background — which sticks out like sore thumb in Hong Kong because 90% of English speakers here are well-off — placed that chip on my shoulder.

I can’t lie, I find myself in “Ef you, I don’t need anyone I do everything myself” mode from time to time. It’s an attitude I developed when I started paying my own bills and expenses at 19. I came to Hong Kong on a whim, with no job lined up, knowing nobody except a cousin, on my own dime. I did the same later to New York. Doing that made me proud of myself — that I did shit and made it on my own with zero financial/emotional support — it reaffirmed the chip on my shoulder, and, sadly, it also makes me an occasional snob.

My ex-girlfriend — who lived in a freaking mansion on midway up the Peak at the time — once told me that she felt insecure telling people where she lived, because she was worried those who don’t live in 3,000 square feet homes that overlook the entire Hong Kong harbor would sneer at her family’s wealth.

She told me one of her favorite books as a teen was a chick-lit titled Jennie. It’s about a rich girl who falls for a poor boy. She tries to hide her wealth from him, but he figures out soon after. From that point on, no matter how hard she tried, and how attracted he is to her, he brushes her off, because he thinks she’ll never understand his world, and more importantly, he doesn’t want to be a part of hers.

She told me the part of the book that stuck with her, even a decade plus later, was when he blew up at her for being spoiled and snobby. Finally having had enough, Jennie responded: “You’re the snob, you wear your poverty like it’s a badge.”

She didn’t tell me what happens after. But being a chick-lit book, I’m assuming the boy realizes he was wrong and the two live happily ever after while the boy’s like “hell yeah I never have to work again.”

Anyway, I’m not sure if she told me about Jennie because she drew parallels from the book (I asked her, she said no, and insisted that she felt that way more towards some acquaintances. But c’mon fellas, we all know that “no” can’t be trusted). I remember, from that point on, I had to get that chip off my shoulder. *cue Jay-Z beat*

Basketball, being a majority black sport, is a sport filled with chip-on-shoulder guys. After all, the shit black people went through in America — the shit they still go through today — gives them plenty of reason to develop that chip. Though it should be to a lesser degree, I think Asian males have a right to have these chips too.

But do learn to use the chip the right way. I ain’t gonna lie, my “ef everyone who says I can’t do this or that” attitude has helped me get where I am today career-wise. I’ve made the biggest strides in my career when I was at my angriest, loneliest, most hurt. On the basketball court, I constantly play with a “You can’t stop me son” attitude. It’s gotten me into fights, it’s gotten me into heated arguments with friends. But it’s also what makes playing basketball enjoyable, it’s what makes playing ball my way of de-stressing and letting out my frustrations.

All this reminds me of what Ra’s Al Ghul told Bruce Wayne at the beginning of Batman Begins: I know the rage drives you, but you have to channel your anger.

Ok, ok, that was kinda a reach, comparing the chips on Noel and black/Asian men’s shoulder to Wayne’s rage — I’m a Batman fan, what can I say? — but the logic is there: use that chip to motivate you in all the right directions, but never let it consume you. Never let it define you.

Also, lighten the fuck up.


One thought on “Chip on Shoulder

  1. bennymeterfan says:

    “But I know the rage that drives you. That impossible anger strangling the grief, until the memory of your loved ones is just poison in your veins. And one day you catch yourself wishing the person you loved had never existed, so you’d be spared your pain.” -Ra’s Al Ghul

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