Jeremy is an Asian American basketball player from California. He grew up in a Christian home and still professes to be a Christian (more on that below). He was a very good basketball player at a large school while in high school but yet received no Division 1 basketball scholarships. The reasons why he did not receive a scholarship have ranged from his lack of great athleticism to racial profiling (college basketball, nor the NBA, have a history of Asian American players). In light of this lack of interest from Division 1 basketball powers, Jeremy chose to attend Harvard. Lin had an outstanding career at Harvard including All-Ivy League First Team his Junior and Senior years.
Jeremy’s play at Harvard was noticed by the NBA and some were predicting he would be the first Ivy-leaguer drafted since 1995. However, Jeremy did not impress NBA teams enough in his pre-draft workouts. NBA workouts are often 1-on-1 or 3-on-3 basketball scrimmages and Jeremy’s game does not translate well to that sort of basketball. His skills are more on full display in a true, 5-on-5 game. Jeremy went undrafted but had several offers to sign a rookie free agent contract. Eventually he signed with his hometown team, the Golden State Warriors (before the 2010-2011 season). Jeremy spent most of the season between the Warriors and the NBA’s Developmental League (the “minor leagues” of the NBA). Before the beginning of this season, the Warriors released him. The Houston Rockets picked him up but eventually released him as well. The New York Knicks picked him up off of waivers on December 27th to be a bench player. Yet again, Jeremy didn’t play much and was sent to the D-league. The Knicks recalled him in late January and finally, on February 4th he was given some substantial playing time. The result? Lin had 25 points, five rebounds, and seven assists—all career-highs.
Since February 4th, Jeremy Lin’s life has been dramatically different. Over this past week, Jeremy started 4 games and they were all spectacular. Lin scored 109 points in his first four career starts, the most by any player since the merger in 1976-77. From Wikipedia:
The Associated Press called Lin “the most surprising story in the NBA.” Bloomberg News wrote that Lin “has already become the most famous [Asian American NBA player].” Knicks fans developed nicknames for him along with a new lexicon inspired by his name, Lin. Time.com ran an article titled, “It’s Official: Linsanity Is for Real”. Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson said, “The excitement [Lin] has caused in [Madison Square] Garden, man, I hadn’t seen that in a long time.”
So, why has Jeremy Lin garnered so much attention? Well, there are several layers to this story:
- He’s one of the few Asian-American players in NBA history
- He’s a true underdog story
- The media attention, especially from the Asian press, has been overwhelming
- He’s a Christian
In 2010, while at Harvard, Jeremy was interviewed about his faith. Below is an excerpt:
How does your faith shape the way you behave on the court? Are you a different basketball player because you are a Christian?
Not just in basketball, but I think in life, when you’re called to be a Christian, you’re automatically called to be different from everyone else. In today’s world of basketball, it makes you really different, because the things that society values aren’t necessarily in line with what God values.
Much of it comes down to humility. We as Christians are called to be humble. And if we really understand the gospel, we will be humble. We should be humble, and understand that everything that is good comes from God.
Lin has gained nearly 70,000 followers on Twitter in the past week. The Knicks have begun selling “Linsanity” shirts in their team store. Several publishers are attempting to sign the 23-year-old to a book deal. Fathead has released a Lin wall graphic. The Asian-American rapper Jin has released a song about the point guard. Lin has become a star, and he still can’t believe everything that has transpired.
“One week ago, I was just hoping that I’d be able to keep my job for the rest of the year,” Lin told HOOPSWORLD in a phone interview. “I’m just so thankful and grateful for everything.”