Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jeremy Lin: 2 Incredible Stories from Knicks-Lakers

Jeremy Lin: 2 Incredible Stories from Knicks-Lakers

I have been staring at my computer screen for 10 minutes. I have 22 e-mails in my inbox from the last hour. I've sent text messages to over a dozen people. I can't concentrate. I keep on trying to come up with a series of complex sentences and metaphors to describe what I've just seen and how I'm feeling and nothing's coming to mind. I write thousands of words a week, and somehow I can't find the words to adequately describe the one sports story that I've had the biggest emotional response to.

Jeremy Lin just dropped 38 points on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Am I dreaming?

Jeremy Lin life stories are emerging from the interweb at a pace that would make Usain Bolt's shoes melt. But, for posterity's sake, here we go.

Lin was an undrafted free agent in the 2010 rookie class coming out of the very prestigious academic heavyweight Harvard University. There's almost no need to say it, but as one of the finest institutions of higher learning on the entire planet, Harvard isn't exactly renowned for its athletic programs. Before Lin, only 3 other varsity basketball student-athletes had ever made to the big leagues. In fact, the Harvard pedigree has produced twice as many United States Presidents (8) as they have NBA players (4).

Despite taking his high school team to the California State Championship his senior year, Lin was only offered a basketball scholarship by 2 schools; Harvard, of course, and Brown University. Lin chose Harvard, only to see the program flourish underneath his skilled handle. The Crimson went on to their winningest season ever, and along the way, defeating the #17th ranked Boston College Eagles in 2009, and then again the following year (not to mention the next two years WITHOUT Lin - so maybe this speaks more to the inferiority of a supposed ACC-caliber team in the Eagles than the upstart Crimson).

Jeremy went unselected in the NBA Draft, as few scouts and critics saw him as anything more than a somewhat athletic Ivy League player whose collegiate dominance was supremely tied into the substandard competition he faced. Lin, as many undrafted free agents do, went on to play in the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League, hoping to catch on as an invitee to any training camp, or at best, sign a non-guaranteed contract with one of the 30 teams. To the surprise of everyone (except for perhaps those who saw his skill firsthand in high school or college), Lin was one of the most effective players in Vegas, dropping nearly 10 points in 18 minutes on 54% shooting. Scouts were stunned by Lin's confidence with the ball, his decision-making ability and fearlessness in the face of more polished prospects. He was soon signed by his hometown Golden State Warriors.

Right there, in signing a two-year non-guaranteed deal, Lin's story was already an incredible one. He had overcome college scouts and coaches that didn't think he was anything but a limited player that won at the high school level. Those same people didn't think he could play well enough to warrant a scholarship to a 4-year college. He erased the stigma attached to playing in the Ivy League, a league known more for its scholastic achievements than any athletic endeavor. Even after overcoming all of those obstacles, he still managed to fight through the ignominious distinction of being undrafted, ignoring all the professional scouts and taking the hardest road to the NBA. Anything that he had achieved, right in that moment of being signed to a professional basketball contract, should have been enough.

Lin averaged only 2.6 points in 29 games as a Warrior. He was cut as soon as the NBA lockout vas lifted last December, only to be signed and waived 12 days later (on Christmas Eve, no less), by the Houston Rockets. Then, on December 27th, he was claimed by the guard-desperate New York Knicks. All the previous events had been dissapointing, but yet in a serendipitous turn of fate, Lin somehow landed on the team and situation for his talents to best thrive.

That's how we got here. From 6 years ago when Lin was wondering if the end of his high school basketball season would be the end of his competitive basketball career, to today, when he threw down 38 points against the Lakers and led the Knicks to victory, Jeremy Lin has overcome every single hurdle that's come his way.

No comments:

Post a Comment