February 21, 2012
Jeremy Lin has taken the National Basketball Association by storm. After a lackluster year from the undrafted player with the Golden State Warriors, the 6’3″ forward has flourished in basketball’s stage in New York under Coach Mike D’Antoni. He has gone from virtual unknown, to the second leading player in jersey sells. But, who is Jeremy Lin and why has he become so popular so quickly?
America loves the underdog, and Lin fits the description perfectly. First, he is an Asian-American playing basketball in a league that is predominantly African-American (nearly 80%). He is only one of only five players of Asian descent to ever play in the NBA. Second, he graduated from an Ivy League school. He is one of four Harvard players to actually play in the NBA, and the last to play since 1954, though a total of ten Harvard players have been drafted. In a league where stars rarely finish college, he graduated from the nation’s best school, the aforementioned Harvard. And finally, after almost three teams cut him, the New York Knickerbockers realized that he can actually play the game of basketball. No one believed that Lin was good enough. Not the Golden State Warriors. Not the Houston Rockets. In fact, Lin was on the verge of being cut by the Knicks before injury and his decision to stop worrying about what coaches told him and to play basketball his way. Lin defines the American dream. He is a guy who was overlooked that made good on his one shot for greatness.
Lin achieved something that no has done before him. He has scored more points in his first four games as a starter than any other player in NBA history has in the modern era. He scored more points than Michael Jordan or Allen Iverson. He scored more points than Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant. Jeremy Lin, an Asian-American kid from Harvard (yes, that Harvard) scored 109 points in his first four starts. At the very least he is a great sports trivia question in ten years, but he could mean so much more to Mike D’Antoni, his coach, and the New York Knicks if he maintains a high level of play. He put up 20 in Minnesota, 38 against Kobe and the Lakers at home, 23 in Washington on the road, and 28 against the Utah Jazz. Even more remarkable was his 51.5% field goal shooting percentage. His worst game shooting the ball was his first where he shot 8-24. But even more to his credit, Lin is averaging 9 assists through 8 games now.
Boxing champ, Floyd Mayweather attacked Lin saying that the only reason that he was getting publicity was because of his ethnicity and that he is overrated as a basketball player. Mayweather is at least half right. Lin is getting publicity because he is Asian. However, Floyd is completely off-base on his ability to play basketball. Lin has touched the heart of Americans for two reasons. One, he is in the minority in his league, an Ivy Leaguer and Asian-American. And two, he is excelling at his craft. Who is Jeremy Lin? He is the kid from Harvard that made good in the NBA. And, he is a star.