From Harvard to the Garden: The Improbable Week and Life of Jeremy Lin

It’s hard not to be romantic about sports.

Jeremy Lin: GIANT KILLER. It’s only been a week since the NY football Giants won the Superbowl and sportsfans can’t forget the win in Indianapolis fast enough. He has become peripheral to the NY sports experience.

BY THE NUMBERS

  1. Lin’s 109 points in his first 4 NBA starts is the most ever since the NBA/ABA merger in 1977
  2. Jeremy Lin is only the 6th player of Asian American descent to play in the NBA. The first was Wat Misaka, a 5ft 7in guard from Utah who got drafted to the Knicks.
  3. The New York Knicks are currently riding a 5 game winning streak without their two most talented players, Amare Stoudemire & Carmelo Anthony. Lin is the reason why.

There are legitimately 10 million things that had to go just right for Jeremy Lin, a second-generation Taiwanese American, to play basketball in the most densely Asian American populated city and in the basketball mecca of the world simultaneously. A player with his talent and with his roots in Northern California, who received his first professional contract from a Northern California team probably should have toiled and sustained a long and fruitful career under the California sun. That didn’t happen. Call it divine providence (something Lin as a devout Christian ascribes to). Call it one of the most enigmatic failures in pro basketball scouting in recent history, or call it a a6’3″ point guard finally getting his due, but Jeremy Lin is a Godsend for the previously hapless New York Knicks and for basketball.

And while detractors who claim that Lin’s talent should be the sole spotlight of his image should gain some credence for their own “colorblind” approach to basketball-everyone from General manager’s and marketers to the very Asian American community in which Jeremy is rooted, simply won’t let this happen. It’s hard not to commemorate such an Asian American player when he redefines himself, as well as the boundaries of Asian American athletics with every historic game. And when Lin is such an obvious ethnic minority in the NBA, it’s impossible for his face not to represent the millions of Asian American athletes who may or may never play under the lights of Madison Square Garden.

Lin is just the sixth player of Asian American descent in American Basketball history. If we look at pioneers of diversity in American sports history, names like: Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Jim Brown, and Wat Misaka are sure to arise. And while race/ethnicity played a monumental part in their careers, their talent and grace on the field supplemented their off-the-field triumphs of diversity enough so that they could eventually seen as great players, great people. Americans.

While humility may not be the greatest virtue inherent in the American sports icon, Lin, like Tim Tebow before him, gives an extraordinary amount of credit to his teammates and to God. A constant praising of teammates and worship of deity is an unorthodox way to utilize a press conference in an age where ludicrous acts of primadonna widereceivers and idiot kickers are rewarded with more airtime. Lin is polite, well-spoken and extremely deferential when it comes to talking about his own skill on the court. So he’s basically made five boring post-game interviews in a row, but the reporters can’t help but flock to the best player on the court– no matter how stoic or polite he may seem. The media is bending over backwards to get a solid quote from him- they think he’s here to stay.

For a less stoic version of Lin, check out the baller’s youtube channel

Newsday and their headlines

Lin did not just fall into a fortuitous situation. He worked and harried, picking-and-rolling, his way to the forefront of basketball consciousness. Being Asian might have something to do with that, but dropping 38 points and helping the Knicks beat Kobe Bryant and his Lakers for the first time in 5 years showed that this Harvard grad – like most others- has serious staying power.

It takes a really special player in an unique situation to put a teammate the caliber of a Carmelo Anthony on the backburner of the sportspage. Because of Lin, former scoring champ, All-Star, and infamous ball-hog, Carmelo Anthony, may have to rethink his offensive priorities. That is the most influence an Asian American man has held in the history of New York.

Who said it was just a game?

There is so much to talk about: The intersectionality of Lin’s identity, the pure basketball issues of chemistry when Amare and Melo get back and how Linsanitiy is touching SU. We’ll cover the latter in this semester’s issue. But for some more background, look to our archives, where you can find the first time A-Line covered Jeremy in his College days in our SPRING 2010 issue. We don’t like to say, “I told you so.” But take a peek at the article, we look pretty smart.

Winter is here in NY and for the first time in about 12 years, everyone’s back in the Garden. Right where they should be.

On a final note, you know you’ve made it when people start painting you. —Joshua Lee

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