TAIWAN: LINSANITY AND THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION

ANDREW DAHI WRITES – Jeremy Lin. Five foot three. A freshman in high school. And a dream. A dream to play basketball at the highest level, on the biggest stage in the world, the NBA.

By the time Lin, a Taiwanese-American, was a senior in high school, he had grown to six foot two inches and was averaging 15 points and 7 assists a game for Palo Alto Highschool in California. Despite leading his team to a 32-1 record and a CIF state final win, Lin could not draw any attention from big name colleges. Instead, it was Ivy league schools that wanted the student-athlete.

Lin took his talents, along with his 4.0 GPA, to Harvard University, where he would get his degree in four years while playing 115 games for the university’s basketball team. In his best season at Harvard, he averaged 17.8 points and 4.3 assists per game, leading the school to a 13-14 record.  This was enough to get Lin’s name into the NBA discussion as well as to receive an invite to the draft combine.

Lin had already made noise in the media, featured in Time magazine and numerous other publications. His time at Harvard solidified him as “one of the most successful Asian Americans in Division 1 basketball history.”  His marketability interested NBA teams, but not enough to get him into the League.

At the combine, Lin was mediocre. He showed great athletic ability as well as an above average first step, but his shooting off the dribble and his ability to play the point guard position was questionable.  Scouts claimed that he “is not a true point guard…is not a pure shooter… tends to force the issue and turn the ball over.” With more reported negatives than positives surrounding Lin’s game, the kid with a dream went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft.

This was not the end of the journey for Lin, though. Rather, it was the beginning. Lin impressed teams in the Summer League and earned a roster spot on the Golden State Warriors, becoming the first person of Chinese/Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. After averaging only 2.6 points per game in 29 games, the Warriors released Lin. The next season, he would go on to play a few pre-season games with the Houston Rockets before finally landing with the New York Knicks.

This Knicks roster included the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Baron Davis, and many more notable players. Lin was not expected to get much time on the court, much less make a significant impact, but the team was struggling, and through a 13-game stretch, from January 12th to February 3rd, the team had managed to pick up just 2 wins. With a few key injuries and nothing to lose, the coaches decided to let Jeremy Lin run the offense.

In his first game with significant minutes, Lin notched 25 points and 7 assists, leading the Knicks to a win over the New Jersey Nets. And so, Linsanity was born. Over the next 6 games, Jeremy Lin would average a whopping 26.8 points per game, breaking off a 7-game win streak for the Knicks. The most notable of these games was against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, when Lin scored an astonishing 38 points against the championship caliber squad. Fans worldwide took immediate notice and Jeremy Lin became a superstar overnight. In a big market like New York, all eyes were on the Knicks and their rising Asian star.

Lin would continue playing at a high level throughout the season until April, when he suffered an injury that would keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. He would then sign with the Houston Rockets after that season, as the Knicks could not afford to keep him, and after that, Lin would never have a stretch of games quite like the one he had with the Knicks. He wound up playing for 8 different teams in 10 years, winning an NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019.

The story of Linsanity is one of the most electric, enjoyable and memorable events to unfold in NBA history. No fan will ever forget Jeremy Lin. No, he did not have an outstanding, long-lasting career, but the memory of the California kid-turned-Asian-American international sports star will never fade.

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