February 27, 2012
What we can learn from Jeremy Lin's sudden rise to leadership.
Normally, February is the dullest month in the sports calendar. The NFL season concluded with the Super Bowl. March Madness is not yet on the horizon. Pitchers and catchers haven't reported. And games in the interminably long basketball and hockey seasons feel meaningless.
But not this year. This February has been more exciting than ever, dominated by Linsanity, the phenomenon surrounding the improbable rise of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.
In his first six games in the starting lineup, Lin has been unstoppable. He scored more points than any other NBA player ever had in his first five starts. In his fifth game, Lin hit a game-winning three pointer with less than a second left on the clock. In his sixth start, he had a career-high thirteen assists. Six starts, six wins. It has been Linsane.
The Lin story is so compelling, not just because of the endless puns based on his name or what he has accomplished on the court, but also because of who he is as a person and the road he has traveled to get to this point.
Lin is Taiwanese-American, the very rare American born Asian player to make an NBA roster. He went to Harvard University, which is not exactly known as a basketball powerhouse. In fact, he is the first Harvard graduate to play in the NBA since 1954. When people imagine great basketball players, they don't normally picture an Asian-American from Harvard.
Lin was undrafted coming into the league, but was able to work his way onto an NBA roster last year. This season, Lin was cut from two other teams before ending up on the Knicks bench. He was reportedly just five games from being let go by the Knicks as well, before an injury forced him into the lineup. Linsanity is proof that he has made the most of his opportunity.
The meteoric rise of Jeremy Lin from unheralded, undrafted benchwarmer to international sensation is nothing short of remarkable. ESPN analyst Tony Kornheiser captured the sentiment while discussing Lin on his radio show, "The thing that stands out is how this guy has gone from non-factor, on the bench, not even going to play, to without question, the leader of a team."