Lin’s story transcends just sports

Published 12:07 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Although I’m a big sports fan, there are a few things that I don’t enjoy quite so much in the world of sports. One is NBA basketball — I find it to be too full of show-off one-on-one moves rather than focusing on passing and shooting skill. The other is New York sports teams — that initial prejudice began when the Braves lost to the Yankees in several World Series, and grew from there.

So why am I cheering for a New York Knicks NBA player?

Chances are that if you’re not a sports fan, you’ve not heard of Jeremy Lin. That’s okay, though, because just two weeks ago nobody had heard of Lin.

Lin is a point guard for the New York Knicks who was thrust into duty after injuries and other player absences. In his very first career start, he scored 28 points in a win over the Utah Jazz. Last Friday, he had 38 points in a win over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

A lot of players have good games, but Lin’s story is especially interesting. He’s the first American-born NBA player to be of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He’s also one of the few NBA players to have come from Harvard; you know, that college that’s more known for putting lawyers in the courts, not point guards in the courts.

Lin has had to spend his whole life proving himself. Although his high-school team won a state championship in California, he didn’t get a single Division I scholarship offer. Although he played relatively well during his four years at Harvard, he was not drafted by any NBA teams. He eventually signed a minor deal with the Golden State Warriors, but did not get much playing time as he was shuffled back-and-forth between the NBA and the NBA’s developmental league.

I think that Lin’s story is especially wonderful because it’s happening in February, the month that our nation celebrates as Black History Month. While it’s true that Lin isn’t black, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that he probably knows what it’s like to be told he can’t do something because of the “color of his skin.” Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of Asian-born players in the NBA, so it’s likely that a lot of those teams looked past Lin’s skills because he didn’t fit the preordained mold of what an NBA basketball player should look like.

Lin’s story is delightful because it shows that all people have a chance to succeed if they are just given a chance to prove themselves. It’s also a testament to the hard work and intense sacrifice that he made in order to get where he is today. Lin also comes off as humble and likeable in his interviews — he always thanks his teammates and shies away from any discussion of individual accomplishments.

Yes, it’s true that Lin could just be a flash-in-the-pan, and that NBA coaches will eventually design a defense to stop his skillful play. But until that point, I think we can all sit back and just enjoy the show.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com