If I asked you what NBA star holds the record for most points scored in his first five starts, you might guess Lebron, Kobe, Shaq, Johnson, Bird, Durant, Jordon, or so many others. Of course, you’d be wrong because the record was just set, this past week, by a kid named Jeremy Lin. Every now and then, a story like this comes along, and a BLArticle™ just writes itself.
What? You’ve never heard of Jeremy Lin? You’re in good company. Jeremy Lin, an undersized, unwanted basketball player, went undrafted this past summer in the NBA draft and was cut from the two NBA teams he tried out for. He came out of that mecca of future NBA stars called Harvard, and then went on to play for the Reno Bighorns and Erie Bayhawks.
But in a few short weeks, things have changed for Jeremy Lin. It all began when New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was getting his team ready to play the New Jersey Nets, and he found he was literally running out of players. He was missing his top two players, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and he made a quick decision to sign Lin for a paltry sum from the NBA’s development league. Lin signed to a standard ten-day contract. He doesn’t possess the basketball pedigree those around him do, but after being overlooked for a period of time, he was given a second chance.
After two straight victories, and some gaudy scoring numbers for Lin, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled into Madison Square Garden to see for themselves what all the talk was about. A somewhat amused Kobe Bryant told the press, “Well, he’s got to deal with me now.” Lin did just fine leading the Knicks to victory scoring 38 points, dishing out seven assists, grabbing four rebounds, and two steals. After the game, a bewildered Kobe seemed to have a sincere change of heart: “It’s a testament to perseverance and hard work. A good example for kids everywhere.” That’s an understatement. Jeremy Lin has captured the imagination of an entire nation.
This “Jerry Lin” phenomenon reminds me of a story that took place about 80 years ago, when an undersized, unwanted horse was claimed for a paltry sum, and given a second chance. He did not possess the classic pedigree the other horses around him possessed. However, this horse made the most of the opportunity he was given, and he was beloved. If this horse was racing, the track set attendance records.
The other night, the Knicks pulled into Minnesota, once again without their two high priced superstars, and the Timberwolves fans broke an eight-year attendance record to witness “Lin-Sanity.” They cheered wildly every time Lin touched the ball, and seemed strangely satisfied to watch the Knicks win their fifth straight game with Lin at the helm.
That horse’s name was Seabiscuit, and when he was given a true opportunity to be great, he captured the imagination of an entire nation. Why? Because at that time in our history, are country was struggling through hard economic times, and we desperately needed something to believe in. We could all identify with another soul that was down and out, suddenly given a second chance, and able to take that opportunity to really shine. That muddy colored, crooked leg horse was just the kind of inspirational athlete the country needed. In fact this horse was actually an athlete people could identify with.
In a similar way, Jeremy Lin is an athlete that a bruised and battered nation can identify with. He has been given the second chance so many of us dream of, and he’s succeeding in a way that makes rooting for him almost like rooting for ourselves.
We are a nation starving for more inspirational examples like Jeremy Lin. Stories like this gently remind us to believe. They remind us to believe in our talent, even if an opportunity to put this talent on display isn’t directly in front of us. We need to believe in ourselves and if we stay true to the talents we possess, an opportunity will present itself. When that opportunity appears, we will have our chance to show the world the gifts we possess. We need to believe it’s not a question of “if this will happen,” but “when this will happen.”
In the book, Seabiscuit, when pressed by a reporter about the lack of size in his horse, Jockey Red Pollard responded by quoting Shakespeare: “Though he be but little, he is fierce.” You can see that fierceness in Jeremy Lin’s eyes when he plays, and that’s what attracts an adoring public to catch even a glimpse of this basketball player. Stay fierce, my friends…