Linsanity taking over the NBA
In 1985, Sports Illustrated ran a story about a curious fellow named Sidd Finch, who was invited as a non-roster player into the New York Mets spring training camp. He was described as "a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse," with a 168 MPH fastball and wore only one shoe – a hiking boot on his left foot – when he played.
No one knew anything about him, including where he came from, why he chose baseball despite his obvious other intellectual talents or how he developed his unbelievable skill set.
Of course Sidd Finch was unbelievable, because it was all an elaborate April Fools Day prank perpetuated by the magazine and author George Plimpton. But if I hadn't been witnessing it with my own eyes, I would have sworn that Jeremy Lin was the second coming of Sidd Finch 27 years later.
Two weeks ago, few outside of the Asian-American community had even heard of Jeremy Lin. After having been cut by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, Lin was picked up on a flyer by the New York Knicks Dec. 27. With just 55 total minutes logged in the Knicks first 23 games of the season, Lin was inserted into the rotation on Feb. 4 after coach Mike D'Antoni grew weary of the lackluster play of his guard tandem of Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert in the absence of the injured Baron Davis.
Since playing his first impact minutes that evening vs. cross-river rivals New Jersey, Lin has become an object of fascination; an overnight cross-cultural international celebrity.
Jeremy Shu-How Lin was born in Los Angeles to Taiwanese immigrant parents in 1988. The family moved to Palo Alto and into the shadows of Stanford University a very short time later, where Jeremy grew up. During his senior season in high school, Lin led Palo Alto High to a 31-1 record and a California Division II state championship.
You might think with that pedigree, local schools would be lining up to sign him up for the next level of play. Add his 4.2 high school grade-point average and it would have seemed to have been a slam dunk for coaches wanting someone to boost their team's overall academic prowess, especially considering the NCAA now actually looks at grades and academic performance. The only question was who would Lin choose?
The problem was no one wanted him, however.
Lin desperately wanted to attend Stanford, but they would not offer him an athletic scholarship; nor would fellow Bay Area rival Cal, nor would UCLA.
University of San Francisco coach Rex Walters told the New York Times in 2010 that Lin's true talents could not easily be seen right away. "Most colleges start recruiting a guy in the first five minutes they see him because he runs really fast, jumps really high, does the quick, easy thing to evaluate," Walters said.
Lin agreed, telling the paper, "I just think in order for someone to understand my game, they have to watch me more than once, because I'm not going to do anything that's extra flashy or freakishly athletic."
In fact, the only school that went after Lin was Harvard, and so it was off to Cambridge.
His junior and senior seasons, Lin earned first-team all-Ivy League honors, but still went virtually unnoticed by NBA scouts. It wasn't until the Dallas Mavericks offered him a spot on their summer league team post-graduation that he was able to show his skills to the league. For Lin, playing that summer worked just as it was supposed to.
In fact, Lin received three offers; from the Mavericks, Lakers, and his hometown Warriors. Choosing the comforts of home after four years away, Lin signed with Golden State.
While Jeremy Lin has just burst onto the scene nationally in the last two weeks, he was hailed as a conquering hero in the highly populated San Francisco Asian-American community as soon as he became a Warrior last season. After all, there have not been many with Lin's ethnic and cultural background in NBA history.
Unfortunately, his stay in Golden State was a short one. Dec. 11, they waived him on the first day of training camp. Then he was picked up by the Houston Rockets, who waived him after the preseason ended and they already had three point guards and were thin at center.
The Knicks then snapped him up, and after toiling on the bench for the first six weeks of the season, Lin has burst onto the scene from nowhere like few have done before him. After his 25-point performance against New Jersey Feb. 4, Line became the Knicks starting point guard and has set the NBA on its collective ear.
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dude is a turnover machine and has inspired so many bad puns i can't wait for the inevitable fade back into obscurity.
Another good example of someone finally getting his chance. He may not be the second coming, but at least he's getting a chance. And he's not a flashy thug...that's refreshing too.
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