Jeremy Lin: The New York Knicks New Star's Humble Roots

Hamza AhsanCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks brings the ball up court against the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden on February 10, 2012 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Meet Jeremy Lin. He is the current starting point guard of the New York Knicks and the NBA’s hottest player in the past week.

But there is just one problem: Lin is Asian.

Lin has heard it his whole life: Asians are good for math. Asians only study. Asians are only good at martial arts. Yet, the stereotypes that society has placed on Lin have not only made him who he is today, but have inspired him to be the best player he can possibly be.

Growing up, Lin was always faced with adversity. Lin’s final game featured his Palo Alto High School squad against a nationally-ranked Mater Dei High School, featuring eight players over 6-7. Lin didn’t back down and ended up with 17 points in a 51-47 upset against Mater Dei. With a state title under his belt, Lin received First Team All-State honors as a senior.

As Lin was looking for schools to play at, the 6-3 point guard had trouble finding a school that would give him an offer. Of all the California schools that Lin wanted to play at, both UCLA and Stanford wanted him to try to walk on to their programs. Lin was again faced with hardship, as he had to decide between having the opportunity to maybe crack the roster at a Pac-12 school, or go and play for none other than Harvard.

Lin chose the second option and ended up having a great career as a Harvard Crimson. Lin was on the First Team All-Ivy League twice while being placed on the Second Team All-Ivy League his sophomore year. His most spectacular performance, though, was in a 79-73 road loss to UCONN. Lin scored 30 points while grabbing nine rebounds.

After his career at Harvard, it looked downhill. Lin did not receive a phone call from an NBA team on draft night, where he was at least projected by a few scouts to be drafted late in the second round.

Again, though, Lin didn’t give up. He continued practicing until the Dallas Mavericks had invited him to their Summer League team. Lin dazzled again and ended up receiving four offers to make an NBA roster, but took up the offer with his hometown Golden State Warriors.

But after having Lin in their grasp, the Warriors cut him to free up cap-space for DeAndre Jordan. Lin was again far away from making his NBA dreams becoming a reality, as he was waived by the Houston Rockets shortly after. This changed when the Knicks had a problem receiving consistent production from their point guard position. The point guard problem forced the Knicks to sign Lin in order to see if he could provide point guard depth.

Lin still had to earn the respect from his teammates and have Knicks management interested enough to give him a shot at receiving NBA playing time. That changed after his D-League debut with the Erie Bay Hawks in which Lin posted a triple-double (28 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists). Lin got called up three days later.

Lin’s desire and optimistic approach has paid off recently. In his first four career starts, Lin has averaged 27.3 points and 8.3 assists. Lin is the first player since LeBron James to average 20 points and eight rebounds in their first two starts. Lin did not only one-up the “King,” but has also bested players like Shaq, Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson by having the most points in their first four starts since the NBA-ABA merger.

Lin isn’t your typical person, and he isn’t your typical NBA player. Beyond the fact that he is Asian, Lin has a different style of game than most others. He is a slasher and an average shooter. 

But one thing separates him from the other elite: basketball IQ. It might sound funny because of him being a Harvard grad, but Lin is one of the smartest point guards in the NBA already. He does make typical rookie mistakes and turns the ball over often, but without Carmelo and Amare, those mistakes will tend to happen.

Lin isn’t the flashiest player like most NBA point guards. Lin does his job; he makes his teammates better and plays the game with fundamentals. Just ask center Tyson Chandler.

In the past four games with Lin as the starter, Chandler’s production has improved noticeably offensively and defensively.

Jeremy Lin is one of the NBA’s hottest stories so far. Not only has he redefined some of the stereotypes about Asians and point guards, he has broken them as well.


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