The past week has seen something truly remarkable in NBA basketball. This week we have all witnessed (sorry Lebron) the rise of Jeremy Lin! Lin has emerged from seemingly “nowhere” to enchant/amaze the professional basketball world AND the World at large. But, Like fellow New Yorker Jay-Z said: “difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week” . All of this from a 6’3″ (former) third-string point guard that was cut twice from two previous NBA teams this year.

It has all seemed like one fantastic dream and amazingly enough, it started out as a dream. This dream came from the imagination of  Lin’s father Gie-Ming Lin and took shape in the hard work and perseverance he extended to his sons (on the court AND in the classroom). The senior Lin’s dream and sacrifice can be read in a story documented by ESPN (way back in 2009)…read about it here http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/columns/story?columnist=oneil_dana&id=4730385 

Lin’s opportunity and  success is nothing short of incredible. As an undrafted ivy-league Asian American player, all the odds were against this guy. The fortunate fact that he managed to make it to the league and literally fall into the perfect situation is of near biblical proportions (for this religious individual). Firstly, ivy-league players have a hard time getting respect for their talents (because of their competition) and Asian-American players get less respect (hate to say it, but scarcity and racism).  Then, as mentioned earlier , he was cut by two teams! Next, he ends up with a team that runs a system tailor-made for his type of basketball skills (the ball-handling, courtvision, decision-making, and scoring)….BUT this team has two superstars already and seemingly no way to let this guy play. Finally though, the team struggles and a (very) slight crack opens up for him to prove himself. Lin seized the opportunity like it was his last . It probably was. They say success is 10% skill and 90% “luck”. 

 To paraphrase Charles Barkley : “Stephon Marbury is rolling over in his grave!”

Make no mistake LIN HAS MAJOR SKILLZ (yes with a “Z”) to go with that amazing luck of ending up in the situation he ended up in. He may be ivy-league but his game is as legit as anyone’s. People forget that, at the time , Lin was the driving force to Harvard having it’s best season in 25 years. The closer you look, the more this guy’s success seems appropriate. (p.s. NBA legend Gary Payton ran basketball clinics with this kid when he was 15 years old…just saying…http://www.medfordareanews.com/oregon-state-beavers-basketball-can-gary-payton-turn-jared-cunningham-into-jeremy-lin/).

The Steve Nash comparisons Lin elicits are real and not just on the surface. Remember, Nash was marginalized because of his race and the division he played in (college). Although, Lin got it worse. (btw…the recent Teabow comparisons are ridiculous. I LOVE TEABOW but it is very different socio-political territory).

Because of the unlikely circumstances surrounding Lin’s arrival to New York, the whole world gets to see this story of triumph. because he ended up in New York (media capital of the world) we all get to share in this experience. If Lin was doing this in a smaller market NBA team (Utah or something), he would still be great but the whole world might not be watching this. Only us basketball fanatics would know about him.

This is the power of sports. This is what non-sports fans (who usually and understandably) “don’t get what all the fuss is about”, don’t normally see. Basketball , like all sports, is ultimately just a game. It is the people involved that gives these games their power. Ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things inspires us to do extraordinary things in our own lives. MJ may inspire a kid who will never touch a basketball to dream of flying high in his own pursuits. Jackie Robinson may inspire someone who hates baseball (like me. sorry) to push through all manner of social obstacles with bravery and confidence. Lin is on the road to empowering himself and many others (Asian and non-Asians alike).

What makes Lin so special is that , not only is he really talented but he also is really humble and team oriented. In fact that humility is probably what has driven his success as much as anything. He obviously knows how talented he is…it shows in his confidence on the court. But, he didn’t walk around with a “chip” on his shoulder like the league owed him anything. He recognized that he needed to go out and make his opportunity happen. He didn’t gripe about being the third option on a team that obviously needed him. He was thankful he even got the chance to be on the team. Thankful that they put time and money into him…and SHINED for the TEAM when his time to showcase himself arrived. Selflessness and humility will always trump bitterness and ego. Even if it takes time for it to pan out. The good people know that and Lin is a special good guy.

It all hasn’t been a love-fest for Lin though. Along with the overwhelming positivity that has been shown for Lin’s rise, there have been doubters and mean-spirited marginalization of what Lin has been doing too. Floyd Mayweather (for example) has reportedly made a racist remark about Lin. But all he has done is expose himself and remind the world of  previous racist remarks that slid under the radar (ugliness doesn’t know when to quit, so that is a plus). Others have doubted the sustainability of Lin’s accomplishments (he has sustained it brillantly so far).

 How can anyone (including Floyd Mayweather) let someone else’s good fortune and happiness piss them off to the point public animosity? That’s a whole other thing for him to figure out. But as a fellow African-American, I find it really sad and (slightly) embarrassing for him to speak of  someone who has his own (similar) struggles so poorly. Hopefully, Mayweather sees how bad that is and makes a personal effort to be a more decent person. No one is perfect, but it is perfectly unacceptable to genuinely be that disgusting to someone for no reason. A Mayweather maturation probably won’t happen though…Mayweather seems like the type to (when confronted) become even more defensive of an obviously flawed point of view…ego holds these types back.

Lin has remained focused and has kept a winning smile on his face throughout. This is what a good family and a good team around you can do for you. This is one more lesson that sports has the power to show us on a ‘worldwide stage’.

The Lin story is relevant/powerful  stuff and the best thing to happen in a NBA season that started out so ugly. Arguments centered around greed and selfishness (the lock-out) have taken a back-seat to hard work and positivity.

It almost doesn’t matter how long this feel-good situation for Lin and the Knicks will last…

The ripple effect of widespread positivity is already touching the lives of many individuals. Those who choose to embrace the good part of this are being treated to something truly awe-inspiring. I’m glad I jumped on the bandwagon (and offered my friends bandwagon seats) early! 

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