Before last week, New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin was not a household name. He was just an undrafted player who had barely left the pine in just over a year in the NBA. But after an unforgettable two weeks, he has become one of the most talked about athletes in the world.
Lin is a local kid, as he played his high school ball at Palo Alto High. He even led them to the state title over Southern California powerhouse Mater Dei. But he was not heavily recruited and wound up taking at Harvard. After a slow start at the Ivy League school, Lin began to make a name for himself. He even was getting mentions as possibly being drafted by an NBA team. Although that didn’t happen, one of his dreams did come true as the hometown Golden State Warriors signed Lin as an undrafted free agent.
Playing behind Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, Lin sat on the bench most nights of his rookie season last year, only making it into a quarter of the games. He was wildly popular whenever he did make an appearance, leading some to believe that upper management only signed him to appeal to the large Asian fan base of the Warriors. Before the start of this season, the Warriors were looking to make a splash in the free agent market and needed to free up funds in an attempt at signing young center DeAndre Jordan from the Clippers. So they cut Lin. He would soon sign on with the Houston Rockets who cut him as well after making their own play for a big man. Eventually, the Knicks claimed his off of waivers.
Lin hardly played for New York at the start of the season. But as injuries hit the team, he came off the bench in the second half of a game against the New Jersey Nets on February 4, scoring 25 points and leading the team to victory, starting the “Linsanity” train. It hasn’t stopped as he has started every game since then, leading the team to a 6-0 record in games he has started, all while averaging over 24 points and 9 assists a game.
Being Asian-American and born and raised in the Bay Area myself, I think the story is an amazing one. Lin is an inspiration to all the kids in middle and high school who are playing hoops and being told they’re too small, too short or too slow to play. He is the ultimate definition of how determination, hard work and a will to achieve can lead to success…no matter what business you are in. Why has the media jumped on his story? I’m sure some of it has to do with the fact that he’s Asian. Honestly, there haven’t been many Asian stars in professional sports in the U.S. and most have come from outside this country. But it truly was the perfect storm. He would have never had this impact with the Warriors. They were not going to get rid of Stephen Curry to play Lin. Plus, their offensive system doesn’t fit what Lin does best; create off the pick-and-roll. He has found the perfect coach (Mike D’Antoni, who coached the Phoenix Suns when Steve Nash was at his best), the biggest audience in the NBA (New York always craves for the brightest stars) and it is that sports story that everyone knows; an underdog who makes it big.
For those people discrediting what he has done and saying the media is focusing on him only because of his race (Floyd Mayweather, I’m looking at you), that is just pure and blatant ignorance. No one has ever started a career like this in the history of the NBA, he is playing at the Mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden, he is making big shots and all the while, smiling and enjoying himself while he’s doing it. One of the most important facets of team sports is to have the trust of your teammates; they have to believe in you. Lin obviously respects the game and his teammates and has won them over, along with fans across the NBA spectrum. It doesn’t hurt that he seems extremely humble for someone who has been tossed full-bore into the spotlight. True NBA fans understand we are watching something historic and unprecedented. Will it continue? Who really knows but I know I’m going to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.
Jeremy Lin should be seen as a great person first and a good basketball player second. He obviously believes strongly in his faith and has persevered through thick and thin, no matter what obstacles have been placed in front of him. He enjoys himself on the court and sets a great example for young people. The fact that he’s great at basketball just tops off the story. If Lin were African-American, Caucasian or Hispanic, it really wouldn’t matter. The color of his skin is just what we see on the outside and what some people want to make as the story; in sports and in life, it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts.
Photo Credit: nikk_la, via Wikimedia Commons