As anyone with an interest in sports (or humans) knows, Jeremy Lin is lighting it up for the New York Knicks. He’s hitting game winners and is wedged neatly in between Derek Rose and Kobe Bryant in PER (a sort of amalgamation of all the major statistical categories).
This is particularly weird for me because I played against the guy in high school, which, I think, gives me some extra insight into the situation. Herewith, my insights as the internet’s self-proclaimed leading non-Asian Jeremy Lin expert:
1. It wasn’t just a big ol’ bunch of racism that kept him from getting a college scholarship
There’s been a lot of talk that Jeremy Lin was overlooked by colleges and then pro teams because he is Asian. There’s probably less to this than one might believe. When I played against him in high school, nobody was like, “Oh man, Jeremy Lin–he’s the best player.” Here’s a partial list of players who were pretty much as good, and in some cases better than Jeremy Lin from the Bay Area during my high school career: Drew Gordon, Decensae White, Chris Oakes, Dominic Cruz-Duncan, James Sandoval, Drew Shiller, Dominic Stewart, Jeremy Franklin, Collin Chiverton, Frank Otis, Rob Jones (who, incidentally has a much more interesting backstory than Jeremy Lin). Even among guys he played with at Palo Alto, you could say Brian Baskauskas was as good.
Some of those guys were definitely, definitely better than Jeremy Lin. It was Lin who led what was a pretty talented Paly team to a state title–a title they really shouldn’t have won against a superior Mater Dei team led by Duke-bound Taylor King and a few other guys going on to play D-I ball. Obviously he’s since then surpassed them all, but it’s not completely insane that nobody wanted Jeremy Lin. Here’s his high school coach, Pete Diepenbrock reflecting,
“I wasn’t sitting there saying all these Division I coaches were knuckleheads,” Diepenbrock says. “There were legitimate questions about Jeremy.”
And there were. He was skinny and not a great shooter. Also: his parents are both 5’6″. Fair or not, a 6’3″ guy with 5’6″ parents raises some concerns. So, no, there’s nobody sitting around from back then who’s like, “I knew it!” And the thing about it is that normally in basketball, talent evaluation isn’t really that hard. From pretty early on, we can tell who’s good. Check out this 2003 McDonald’s All-American Team roster. Most of those guys played in the NBA at some point.
2. People need to stop ragging on the Warriors and Rockets (and for that matter, the Mavericks) for not keeping Jeremy Lin
It wasn’t too long ago that seeing an Asian dude rocking a Jeremy Lin Warriors jersey was just, well, funny. Jeremy Lin was with the Warriors for a whole season, and well, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire. He looked terrible at times defensively and turned the ball over a lot. That he played AAU with owner Joe Lacob’s son Kirk probably played some role in his being given a roster spot. And before you say that’s impossible, I’d point to Kirk’s high school coach being given a job as an assistant coach with the team.
3. Jeremy Lin is not some weird metaphor
Now, everyone with any interest in having their story be googled will slap Jeremy Lin into the title of their blog post–but there needs to be some excuse to do so, which leads to compare him to all manner of silly things. He is not a stand-in for the economic recovery, Asian assimilation into America, season four of The Wire, Tim Tebow, tensions between China and Taiwan, the 1968 Olympics, Rudy, The Natural, or, my favorite, Nine Career Lessons of Jeremy Lin, which includes such great advice as “find a way to add value.” Thanks for teaching us that lesson, Jeremy.
Either way, we can all agree that the best Jeremy Lin pun is Virtual Linsanity by Jeremyroquai. There will be no debate on this.