Everyone loves the story of an underdog. This is what we all hope for and love so much about sports. A new name has risen and a new story is being written.
Jeremy Lin was just another high school basketball player who wanted to continue playing in college. Lin, a six foot guard at the time, was very much overlooked by college coaches and recruiters. He did not receive a single Division I offer, even though he was a star on his Palo Alto high school team and led them to a Division II championship. He was named first-team All-State and Northern California Division II Player of the Year in 2006, ending his senior year averaging 15.1 points, 7.1 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 5.0 steals. Despite that record, neither Stanford, UCLA, or Cal were willing to make room on their rosters for him.
A large part of the reason that Lin was overlooked by so many was because of his physical abilities, or lack thereof. He did not stand out in any of his athletic abilities.
The son of Taiwanese immigrant parents, Lin didn’t look like a potential NBA star. Although he was seen for his passing abilities, knowledge of the game, and his quick first step, most Division I recruiters were unimpressed. In short, Lin didn’t contain the obvious qualities that coaches and recruiters look for and weigh so heavily.
Despite that, Lin continued believing in himself and attempted to get the attention of an Ivy-League or Patriot League school. He continuously sent game film of himself to schools, but it was his impressive performance in an A.A.U (Amateur Athletic Union) game against Division I recruits which finally got him noticed by Harvard recruiters. With a high school GPA of 4.2 and a strong showing against top recruits, Harvard made Lin their top recruit in 2006. Harvard doesn’t give athletic scholarships and they were concerned that Stanford, in Lin’s backyard, would lure him away with a scholarship.
Stanford did not, however, and Lin went on to a successful career at Harvard. He was named top of the All-Ivy First team his junior and senior years. In 2010, ESPN named Lin one of the top 12 most versatile college players.
Currently the starting point guard for the New York Knicks, Lin has put up surreal numbers. Averaging 21.5 points, 9 assists and 2.3 steals in his starts so far, the Knicks have won ten of their last thirteen games. However, Lin’s achilles heel has been turnovers, averaging 5.3 during his streak. Still, not bad for the Harvard grad who is the only active player and 4th of all time to graduate from Harvard and go to the NBA.
Despite his strong college record, Lin was not selected in the 2010 NBA draft. Un-drafted, he was able to get invitations to workout with several NBA teams and eventually signed a 2-year contract with the Golden State Warriors in July 2010. Although a favorite with the hometown crowd, Lin’s time with the Warriors was largely spent on the bench or playing for their developmental team. In December 2011, Lin was traded to the Houston Rockets. Less than a month later, he was traded to the New York Knicks.
The Knicks were planning to release Lin before his contract became guaranteed on Feb. 10. Then injuries and some bad playing by his teammates gave Lin the opportunity he had been waiting for.
On February 4th, in a game against the New Jersey Nets, Lin had 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists—all career-highs at the time to lead the Knicks over the Nets 99–92. He started the next game and has yet to slow down.
Now, after a long journey in his short career, the 23 year-old Lin has become the talk of the town. He has gone from marginal player to superstar in less than two months. From living on his brother’s couch to having the top selling jersey in the NBA, Lin has certainly made his impact on the sports world. Asian-Americans call Lin an inspiration. He is also an inspiration to kids of all races who have been told by coaches that they’re not good enough to play.
The one thing that never changed throughout Lin’s entire journey: he never stopped believing in himself when no one else did.