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 that 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.”