If a Hollywood screenwriter dared to pen Jeremy Lin’s life story, he’d likely be laughed at.
As an undrafted player from Harvard University, Lin signed with the Golden State Warriors last season only to be released. Lin then inked a contract with the Houston Rockets, and was once again sent packing.
Just before this season, Lin signed a free-agent deal with the New York Knicks, but languished at the end of the bench. Lin hoped his time would come, and it finally did.
With the Knicks going nowhere, injuries and poor play at point guard forced Head Coach Mike D’Antoni to insert Lin and he’s delivered by averaging 22.5 points with 8.6 assists as the Knicks have gone 9-3.
It’s amazing how in slightly less than four weeks, Lin has taken New York City by storm, and his fame has grown international.
Lin’s odyssey began with a 99-92 victory against the New Jersey Nets when he tallied 25 points and handed out seven assists.
But it wasn’t until Lin dropped a career-best 38 points with seven assists in a 92-85 win over the Lakers at Madison Square Garden that the nation really took notice.
Lin’s story is not only remarkable, it’s heart-warming. Early on NBA scouts have already tabbed the top college and high school talent. Players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, and Dwight Howard are easy to evaluate because they’re so over-the-top gifted.
Then there are players like Lin, a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder who spent significant time in the NBA Developmental League.
A decent long-range shooter, Lin can hammer a mid-range jumper, but his forte is getting into the lane and finishing at the rim. Get too close, and he’ll dish to an open teammate.
If there’s a weakness in Lin’s game, it’s that he turns the ball over too much (5.6 a game).
Lin attended high school in Palo Alto, and his team, which finished 32-1 his senior year, knocked off highly-ranked Mater Dei (Orange County) 51-47 in the CIF Division II state title game.
Lin’s dream was to play for Stanford or UCLA. Neither materialized, but UCLA assistant coach Kerry Keating offered Lin, who is Chinese-American, a chance to walk-on.
“I just think in order for someone to understand my game, they have to watch me more than once,’’ said Lin, “because I’m not going to do anything that’s extra flashy or freakishly athletic.”
Lin’s options narrowed to Harvard and Brown, and neither offer athletic scholarships.
Two games stand out for Lin while at Harvard. The first was an 82-70 triumph over 17th-ranked Boston College in which Lin, a two-time All-Ivy League first-team selection, dropped 27 points with eight assists and six rebounds.
Lin’s 30-point, nine-rebound effort against 12th-ranked Connecticut had Hall of Fame Head Coach Jim Calhoun gushing his praise.
“I’ve seen a lot of teams come through here, and he could play for any of them,’’ he said of Lin, who concluded his career for the Crimson averaging 12.9 points, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 4.3 rebounds. “He’s got great, great composure on the court. He knows how to play.”
What Calhoun saw in Lin, who majored in economics and finished with a 3.1 grade-point average, eluded nearly every college and NBA scout. Now he’s making up for lost time.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.