This article is about the basketball player. For the Olympic swimmer, see Jeremy Linn
. For the wrestler, see Jeremy Lynn
Jeremy Shu-How Lin (born August 23, 1988) is an American professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
After receiving no athletic scholarship offers out of high school and being undrafted out of Harvard University, Lin reached a partially guaranteed contract deal in 2010 with his hometown Golden State Warriors. He seldom played in his rookie season and was assigned to the NBA Development League (D-League) three times. He was waived by the Warriors and the Rockets the following preseason before joining the New York Knicks early in the 2011–12 season. He continued to play sparingly and again spent time in the D-League. In February 2012, he unexpectedly led a winning streak by New York while being promoted to the starting lineup, which generated a global following known as Linsanity. In the summer of 2012, Lin signed a three-year contract with the Rockets.
Lin is one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history, and the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the league. He is also known for his public expression of his Christianity.
Lin was born in Los Angeles, and raised in a Christian family in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Palo Alto.[note 1] His parents, Lin Gie-Ming and Shirley Lin, emigrated from Taiwan to the United States in the mid-1970s, settling first in Virginia before moving to Indiana, where they both attended universities. They are dual nationals of both Taiwan and the U.S. Lin's paternal family comes from Beidou, Changhua, in Taiwan (his father's distant ancestors were from Zhangpu County, Fujian, in mainland China, and settled in Taiwan in 1707), while his maternal grandmother emigrated to Southern Taiwan in the late 1940s from Pinghu, Zhejiang in mainland China.
Lin's parents are both 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) tall. His maternal grandmother's family was tall, and her father was over 6 feet (1.8 m). Lin has an older brother, Josh, and a younger brother, Joseph. Gie-Ming taught his sons to play basketball at the local YMCA. Shirley helped form a National Junior Basketball program in Palo Alto where Lin played. She worked with coaches to ensure his playing did not affect academics. She was criticized by her friends for letting Lin play so much basketball, but she allowed him to play the game he enjoyed.
High school career
In his senior year in 2005–2006, Lin captained Palo Alto High School to a 32–1 record and upset nationally ranked Mater Dei, 51–47, for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division II state title. He was named first-team All-State and Northern California Division II Player of the Year, ending his senior year averaging 15.1 points, 7.1 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 5.0 steals.
Lin sent his résumé and a DVD of highlights of his high-school basketball career to all the Ivy League schools, University of California, Berkeley, and his dream schools Stanford and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The Pac-10 schools wanted him to walk-on, rather than be actively recruited or offered a sports scholarship. Harvard and Brown were the only teams that guaranteed him a spot on their basketball teams, but Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships. Rex Walters, University of San Francisco men's basketball coach and a retired NBA player, said NCAA limits on coaches' recruiting visits had an impact on Lin's chances. "Most colleges start recruiting a guy in the first five minutes they see him because he runs really fast, jumps really high, does the quick, easy thing to evaluate," Walters said. Lin added, "I just think in order for someone to understand my game, they have to watch me more than once, because I’m not going to do anything that’s extra flashy or freakishly athletic."
In July 2005, then-Harvard assistant coach Bill Holden saw that Lin was 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m), which fitted the physical attributes he was seeking, and he had a 4.2 grade point average in high school, which fitted Harvard's academic standards. But Holden was initially unimpressed with Lin's on-court abilities, and told Lin's high school basketball coach, Peter Diepenbrock, that Lin was a "Division III player". Later that week, Holden saw Lin playing in a much more competitive game, driving to the basket at every opportunity with the "instincts of a killer", and Lin became a top priority for him. Harvard coaches feared that Stanford, close to Lin's home,[note 2] would offer Lin a scholarship, but it did not, and Lin chose to attend Harvard. "I wasn't sitting there saying all these Division I coaches were knuckleheads," Diepenbrock said. "There were legitimate questions about Jeremy." Joe Lacob, incoming Warriors' owner and Stanford booster, said Stanford's failure to recruit Lin "was really stupid. The kid was right across the street. [If] you can't recognize that, you've got a problem." Kerry Keating, the UCLA assistant who offered Lin the opportunity to walk-on, said in hindsight that Lin would probably have ended up starting at point guard for UCLA.
After failing to receive any athletic scholarship offers, Lin attended Harvard.
A Harvard coach remembered Lin in his freshman season as "the [physically] weakest guy on the team", but in his sophomore season (2007–08), Lin averaged 12.6 points and was named All-Ivy League Second Team. By his junior year during the 2008–09 season, he was the only NCAA Division I men's basketball player who ranked in the top ten in his conference for scoring (17.8), rebounding (5.5), assists (4.3), steals (2.4), blocked shots (0.6), field goal percentage (0.502), free throw percentage (0.744), and three-point shot percentage (0.400), and was a consensus selection for All-Ivy League First Team. He had 27 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds in an 82–70 win over 17th-ranked Boston College, three days after the Eagles defeated No. 1 North Carolina.
In his senior year (2009–10), Lin averaged 16.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.1 blocks, and was again a unanimous selection for All-Ivy League First Team. He was one of 30 midseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award and one of 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award. He was also invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. Fran Fraschilla of ESPN picked Lin among the 12 most versatile players in college basketball. He gained national attention for his performance against the 12th-ranked Connecticut Huskies, against whom he scored a career-high tying 30 points and grabbed 9 rebounds on the road. After the game, Hall of Fame Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said of Lin: "I've seen a lot of teams come through here, and he could play for any of them. He's got great, great composure on the court. He knows how to play."
For the season, Harvard set numerous program records including wins (21), non-conference wins (11), home wins (11) and road/neutral wins (10). Lin finished his career as the first player in the history of the Ivy League to record at least 1,450 points (1,483), 450 rebounds (487), 400 assists (406) and 200 steals (225). He graduated from Harvard in 2010 with a degree in economics and a 3.1 grade-point average.
At the Portsmouth Invitational, Lin first met sports agent Roger Montgomery and later gave Montgomery a commitment. To Montgomery's disappointment, Lin went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft. The NBA had not drafted an Ivy League player since Jerome Allen of Penn in the second round in 1995. The last Ivy League player to play in the NBA was Yale's Chris Dudley in 2003, while the last Harvard player was Ed Smith in 1954. Eight teams had invited Lin to predraft workouts. Diepenbrock said that NBA tryouts do not play five on five. Lin acknowledged that the workouts were "one on one or two on two or three on three, and that’s not where I excel. I've never played basketball like that." Scouts saw what The New York Times later described as "a smart passer with a flawed jump shot and a thin frame, who might not have the strength and athleticism to defend, create his own shot or finish at the rim in the N.B.A." Lin joined the Dallas Mavericks for mini-camp as well as their NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas. Donnie Nelson of the Mavericks was the only General Manager who offered him an invitation to play in the Summer League. "Donnie took care of me," said Lin. "He has a different type of vision than most people do."
In five Summer League games, while playing both guard positions, Lin averaged 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 steals in 18.6 minutes per game and shot a team leading 54.5% from the floor. He outplayed first overall pick John Wall; Lin scored 13 points to Wall's 21, but did so on 6-for-12 shooting in 28 minutes. Wall was 4-for-19 in 33 minutes. While Wall received the biggest cheer for any player during introductions, the crowd turned on Wall and was cheering for Lin by the end of the game. Lin received offers to sign from the Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, and an unnamed Eastern Conference team. In addition to the original three teams, the Golden State Warriors also offered Lin a contract.
Golden State Warriors (2010–2011)
Lin at Warriors practice in 2010
On July 21, 2010, Lin signed a two-year deal with his hometown Warriors, his favorite team growing up. Lin's deal was partially guaranteed for 2010–11, and the Warriors held a team option for the second season. The deal included a first-year salary of close to $500,000 with more than half of it guaranteed. Lin said the counteroffers from the three other teams were higher, but he wanted to play for the Warriors. Lin's agent Roger Montgomery negotiated the deal. Lin also signed a three-year guaranteed contract with Nike. His jersey was already on sale before his first NBA game.
The Warriors held a press conference for Lin after his signing, with national media in attendance. "It was surprising to see that ... for an undrafted rookie," said then-Warriors coach Keith Smart. The San Jose Mercury News wrote that Lin "had something of a cult following" after his signing. The San Francisco Bay Area, with its large Asian-American population, celebrated his arrival. He became the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA. Lin received the loudest ovation of the night in the Warriors' home exhibition opener at Oracle Arena when he entered the game in the fourth quarter. The crowd had started chanting for him in the third quarter and cheered whenever he touched the ball. "That really touched me. It's something I'll remember forever," Lin said. During the first month of the season, Oracle Arena fans continued to root for Lin to play in the end of games and cheered every time he touched the ball. He drew cheers from the crowd on the road as well, with some writers attributing the attention to the unique story of a successful Asian-American basketball player. Still, Lin played more relaxed on the road, where he felt less scrutiny and pressure to perform.
Lin acknowledged the expectations and warned, "I won't be an All-Star this year." He was appreciative of the support, especially from the Asian-American community, but he preferred to concentrate on his play without all the attention when he had not "proven anything to anybody." Smart saw that Lin was skilled at getting to the paint, but needed to learn to pass because, he said, Lin "couldn't shoot the ball at all". The coach also noticed that the player always arrived early for practice and left late. Lin studied and rehearsed Steve Nash and other top point guards' pick-and-roll plays. Frank Hughes of Sports Illustrated wrote that he talked with the occasional "seeds of self-doubt", which he said was uncommon to hear in the NBA. Hughes also found it rare when Lin compared himself to the Phoenix Suns' backup point guard Goran Dragić. "Neither of us is a freak athlete, but we're both effective and know how to play the game," Lin said. Lin and Stephen Curry, the 2009–10 runner-up Rookie of the Year, received more interview requests than any other Warrior. Team officials regularly denied requests for Lin to help him keep his focus. He was approached to be the subject of documentaries. Smart planned to take pressure off Lin since Lin had a tendency to be hard on himself and get frustrated, but the coach admitted that he once succumbed to the home crowd's wishes and put Lin into a game in the wrong situation.
Lin received little playing time during the season with two dominant ball-handling guards, Curry and Monta Ellis, starring for the Warriors. He initially competed with Charlie Bell and Reggie Williams, and later Acie Law, for playing time at backup point guard. Lin started the regular season on the Warriors' inactive list, but made his NBA debut the next game during the Warriors' Asian Heritage Night. He received a standing ovation when he entered the game in the final minutes. In the next game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Lin scored his first NBA basket, had three assists, and recorded four steals. He played 11 of his 16 minutes in the third quarter and committed five fouls but played a role in a 12–1 run by the Warriors in a 107–83 loss to the defending NBA champions. Lakers' guard Derek Fisher praised Lin for his energy and aggressiveness. At Toronto on November 8, the Raptors held Asian Heritage Night to coincide with Lin's visit with the Warriors. Over 20 members of Toronto's Chinese media covered the game. In a 89–117 road loss to the Lakers, Lin scored a (then) career-high 13 points in 18 minutes after scoring only seven total points in his first six games.
Three times during the season, Lin was assigned to the Warriors' D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns. Each time, he was later recalled by the Warriors. He competed in the NBA D-League Showcase and was named to the All-NBA D-League Showcase First Team on January 14, 2011. Lin helped lead the Bighorns to a 2–0 record at the Showcase with averages of 21.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.5 steals. Lin posted a season-high 27 points with the Bighorns on March 18. In 20 games he averaged 18 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists with Reno. Lin initially felt he was not good enough to play in the NBA, but he later realized he was learning and getting playing time in the D-League that he would not have received with the Warriors. Lin credited Bighorns coach Eric Musselman with "helping him regain [his] swagger." Musselman recalled that Lin was a good scorer for himself but was not yet skilled at "using the whole floor". He scored many offensive fouls, but Musselman believed Lin was as good as Gilbert Arenas in the dribble drive, an ability "you can't teach". The player continued to improve his pick-and-roll, how to handle double teams and traps, and improved his jump shot and, especially, his three pointer. Musselman also noticed that Lin, who as an NBA player received first-class airplane tickets, gave them to his teammates.
The Warriors saw Lin as a potential backup for Curry. Lacob said the team received more than one trade offer for Lin while he was in the D-League, but he was happy with Lin's progress as an undrafted free agent. "He's a minimum, inexpensive asset. You need to look at him as a developing asset. Is he going to be a superstar? No." He finished his rookie NBA season averaging 2.6 points on 38.9 percent shooting in 29 games.
Lin recovered from a patellar ligament injury to his knee during the 2011 NBA lockout. In September 2011, Lin played a few games for the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) club Dongguan Leopards at the ABA Club Championship in Guangzhou, China, where he was named the MVP of the tournament. Shanghai Sharks president and former NBA star Yao Ming also tried, unsuccessfully, to sign Lin for the upcoming CBA season; Lin explained that as someone still under contract with the Golden State Warriors, he could not play in the CBA as the league would only admit NBA free agents. A few days before the lockout was lifted on November 26, Lin had been close to signing with an undisclosed club in Italy.
Lin worked to improve his jump shot during the offseason by abandoning the shooting form he had used since the eighth grade. He also increased his strength, doubling the weight he could squat (from 110 pounds (50 kg) to 231 (105)) and almost tripling the number of pull-ups that he could do (from 12 to 30). He increased his body weight from 200 pounds (91 kg) to 212 (96)—including 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of muscle—added 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) to his standing vertical jump and 6 inches (15 cm) to his running vertical jump, and improved his lateral quickness by 32 percent. Due to the lockout, he never got a chance to workout for new Warriors coach Mark Jackson. On the first day of training camp on December 9, 2011, the Warriors waived Lin. He was a favorite of Lacob, but the Warriors were freeing up salary cap space to make an offer to restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan; Lin was due to make almost $800,000 that would have become fully guaranteed on February 10, 2012. The San Francisco Chronicle said Lin would have had trouble beating out rookie guard Charles Jenkins.
On December 12, 2011, Lin was claimed off waivers by the Houston Rockets. He played seven minutes in two pre-season games with the Rockets, who already had Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragić and Jonny Flynn as point guards with guaranteed contracts. On December 24, before the start of the season, the Rockets waived Lin to clear payroll to sign center Samuel Dalembert.
New York Knicks (2011–2012)
Lin after his first game for the Knicks on December 28, 2011
The New York Knicks claimed Lin off waivers on December 27 to be a backup behind Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby after an injury to guard Iman Shumpert; recently signed guard Baron Davis was also injured and weeks away from playing. Because of the lockout coaches had little opportunity to see Lin's play, and placed him fourth on the point guard depth chart. Lin said he was "competing for a backup spot, and people see me as the 12th to 15th guy on the roster. It's a numbers game", and continued to arrive first at practice, leave last, intensely study game film, and work with coaches to improve his footwork and judgement. He made his season debut on the road against the Warriors, where he was warmly cheered in his return to Oracle Arena. On January 17, 2012, Lin was assigned to the Erie BayHawks of the D-League. On January 20, he had a triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists in the BayHawks' 122–113 victory over the Maine Red Claws. Lin was recalled by the Knicks three days later, but so feared being cut again that he asked a chaplain at a pregame prayer service to pray for him. If released again, Lin considered playing in Europe, returning to the D-League, or taking a break with a non-basketball job.
On January 28, Davis suffered a setback that postponed his Knicks debut. Then New York considered releasing Lin before his contract became guaranteed on February 10 so they could sign a new player. However, after the Knicks squandered a fourth quarter lead in a February 3 loss to the Boston Celtics, coach Mike D'Antoni decided to give Lin a chance to play, in "desperation" according to experts. "He got lucky because we were playing so bad," said D'Antoni. Lin had played only 55 minutes through the Knicks' first 23 games, but he unexpectedly led a turnaround of an 8–15 team that had lost 11 of its last 13 games.
On February 4, against the New Jersey Nets and All-Star guard Deron Williams, Lin had 25 points, five rebounds, and seven assists—all career-highs—in a 99–92 Knicks victory. Teammate Carmelo Anthony suggested to coach Mike D'Antoni at halftime that Lin should play more in the second half. After the game, D'Antoni said Lin has a point-guard mentality and "a rhyme and a reason for what he is doing out there." In the subsequent game against the Utah Jazz, Lin made his first career start playing without stars Anthony, who left the game due to injury, and Amar'e Stoudemire, whose older brother had died. Lin had 28 points and eight assists in the Knicks' 99–88 win. Stoudemire and Anthony missed the next three and seven games, respectively. D'Antoni stated after the Jazz game that he intended to "rid[e Lin] like freakin' Secretariat." Basketball trainer David Thorpe said in hindsight that such a statement of confidence so soon by a coach was "incredibly rare", and likely gave Lin the confidence to continue to play aggressively despite making mistakes.
Players playing that well don't usually come out of nowhere. It seems like they come out of nowhere, but if you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning. It probably just went unnoticed.
In a 107–93 win over the Washington Wizards, Lin played against John Wall and had 23 points and 10 assists, his first double-double. On February 10, Lin scored a new career-high 38 points and had seven assists, leading the Knicks in their 92–85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. He outscored the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, who had 34 points. On February 11, Lin scored 20 points and had 8 assists in a narrow 100–98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Lin was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 assists and 2.0 steals in those four starts with the Knicks going undefeated.
On February 14, with less than a second remaining, Lin scored a game-winning three-pointer against the Toronto Raptors. The basket so amazed the Lakers, watching on TV, that veteran player Metta World Peace ran by reporters shouting "Linsanity! Linsanity!" and waving his hands above his head. Lin became the first NBA player to score at least 20 points and have seven assists in each of his first five starts. Lin scored 89, 109, and 136 points in his first three, four, and five career starts, respectively, all three of which are the most by any player since the merger between the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the NBA in 1976–77.
Lin shoots over former Warriors teammate David Lee
In the following game against the Sacramento Kings, Lin recorded 13 assists and led the Knicks back to .500. New York had a 7–0 record after Lin started receiving major playing time, 6–0 with him starting. The winning streak ended in an 89–85 loss to the New Orleans Hornets; Lin scored 26 points but had nine turnovers. His 45 turnovers in his first seven career starts were the most since individual turnovers began being tracked in 1977–78. On February 19 in a 104–97 win against the Mavericks, Lin scored 28 points and tallied career highs with 14 assists and five steals. USA Today wrote, "No matter what Dallas threw at Lin – double-teams, traps, blitzes, tall defenders ... smaller defenders ... stocky, thin – Lin found a way ... to a victory against the defending NBA champions."
In his 12 starts before the All-Star break, Lin averaged 22.5 points and 8.7 assists, and New York had a 9–3 record. He played in the Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend. He was omitted from the original Rising Stars roster, but was added after his sudden rise to stardom. Some media outlets—including USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and CBSSports.com—stated that he deserved to play in the All-Star Game.
The Knicks in March replaced D'Antoni with Mike Woodson, who ran fewer pick-and rolls and more isolation plays. Lin had excelled running pick-and-rolls under D'Antoni. After the March 24 game against the Detroit Pistons, Lin complained about a sore knee, and an MRI later revealed a small meniscus tear in the left knee. Lin opted to have knee surgery and missed the remainder of the regular season. Lin averaged 18.5 points and 7.6 assists during his 26 games as an everyday player. In the first 10 games, he averaged 24.6 points and 9.2 assists, shooting 49.7 percent from the field but with 5.6 turnovers. In the next seven games, he averaged 16 points and 7.7 assists with 3.9 turnovers. In the last nine games, Lin averaged 13.6 points and 5.9 assists and shot only 39.1 percent while dealing with his then-undisclosed knee injury. The New York Times called Lin "[the Knicks'] most popular player in a decade".
He became a restricted free agent at the end of the season. His success over only 26 games left teams uncertain about his overall standing among the league's point guards. Some still believed he was suited as a bench player.
Houston Rockets (2012–present)
Lin had originally agreed to sign an offer sheet with Houston worth $28.8 million over four years, with the fourth year of that deal being at the Rockets’ option, which put the true commitment at only $19.5 million. Coach Mike Woodson had said the Knicks would match Houston's offer and that Lin would be his starting point guard. Lin signed with the Rockets with a revised three-year, $25 million deal which the Knicks did not match. The first two years of the contract pay Lin $5 million and $5.225 million, respectively, followed by $14.8 million in the third year. The higher salary in the final year, known as a "poison pill", was intended to discourage New York from matching the offer. Including luxury tax, the Knicks' cost for Lin in 2014–15 was estimated at $43 million.
- Regular season
Lin at a press conference in Taiwan
In addition to being a U.S. citizen, Lin is also by descent through his parents a national of the Republic of China (Taiwan); Lin could apply for a Republic of China passport although there is no record of his having done so. Lin has been invited to play for the Chinese Taipei men's national basketball team in FIBA competitions. On July 28, 2010 while in Taipei to play in Yao Ming's charity game, Lin said he had not made a decision yet on whether he would represent Chinese Taipei (the name used by Taiwan in international sporting competitions). In June 2011, the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association (CTBA) included Lin in its preliminary squad of 24 players for the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. The next month, however, the CTBA announced that Lin would not be included on their roster due to a knee injury.
Taiwanese media reported that Lin declined an offer from the People's Republic of China to play in the same tournament; however, the Chinese Basketball Management Center denied having ever approached him.
Lin was named to the USA Basketball Men's Select Team to scrimmage against the 2012 USA Olympic team candidates, but he did not participate due to his restricted free agent status with the Knicks.
Sean Gregory of Time wrote of Lin's zero Division I scholarship offers: "[Lin] was scrawny, but don't doubt that a little racial profiling, intentional or otherwise, contributed to his underrecruitment." Diepenbrock stated, "If [Lin] was African American or Caucasian, it might have been a different deal"; he did not think Lin's race affected his recruiting until later seeing 10 Division I coaches express interest in a black student who Diepenbrock assessed as "a nice junior college player." Lin said: "I'm not saying top-5 state automatically gets you offers, but I do think (my ethnicity) did affect the way coaches recruited me. I think if I were a different race, I would've been treated differently." Walters added, "People who don't think stereotypes exist are crazy. If [Lin's] white, he's either a good shooter or heady. If he's Asian, he's good at math. We're not taking him."
Diepenbrock said that people without meaning any harm assume since Lin is Asian that he is not a basketball player. The first time Lin went to a Pro-Am game in Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco someone there informed him: "Sorry, sir, there's no volleyball here tonight. It's basketball." During Lin's college career, fewer than 0.5% of men's Division 1 basketball players were Asian-American. Lin has regularly heard bigoted jeers at games such as "Wonton soup", "Sweet and sour pork", "Open your eyes!", "Go back to China", "Orchestra is on the other side of campus", or pseudo-Chinese gibberish. Lin says this occurred at most if not all Ivy League gyms. He does not react to it. "I expect it, I'm used to it, it is what it is," says Lin. The heckling came mostly from opposing fans and not as much from players. According to Harvard teammate Oliver McNally, a fellow Ivy League player once called Lin the ethnic slur chink. In January 2010, Harvard played against Santa Clara University at the Leavey Center, just 15 miles from his hometown of Palo Alto, California. Playing to a capacity crowd that included droves of Asian Americans wanting to see his homecoming, his teammates told him, "It was like Hong Kong."
Lin considers himself a basketball player more than just an Asian American. He understands that there have not been many Asians in the NBA. "Maybe I can help break the stereotype," said Lin. "I feel like Asians in general don't get the respect that we may deserve whether it comes to sports, basketball, or whatever it might be." Prior to the 2010–11 NBA season, Americans of Asian descent who played in the NBA included Wataru Misaka, Raymond Townsend, Corey Gaines, Rex Walters, and Robert Swift. "[Lin's] carrying the hopes of an entire continent. I only had to carry the hopes of Little Rock, Arkansas. He's accomplished a lot more than I have already," said Derek Fisher, who had won five NBA championships with the Lakers, after his first game against Lin. Lin is setting an example for prospective Asian athletes in America who rarely see Asian-Americans playing on their favorite teams. "I don't look Japanese," Walters said, referring to his mother's ethnicity. "When they see [Lin], it's an Asian-American".
Some fans and commentators wrote off his Warriors signing as a publicity stunt. Larry Riley, the team's general manager, denied catering to the Bay Area’s large Asian population. He understood that some people would see it that way. "We evaluated him throughout summer league," Riley said. “All that had to happen was for him to confirm what we already believed." While the team created a campaign around him, Riley said it would not have been advisable if Lin was not a basketball player first.
I know a lot of people say I'm "deceptively athletic" and "deceptively quick," and I'm not sure what’s deceptive. But it could be the fact that I’m Asian-American. But I think that’s fine. It's something that I embrace, and it gives me a chip on my shoulder. But I'm very proud to be Asian-American and I love it.
On February 10, 2012, in the middle of Lin's career game against the Lakers, Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock posted on Twitter, "Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight", a reference to Lin's sexual prowess. Hyphen wrote that Whitlock "reinforced the insipid and insidious 'small Asian penis' stereotype." The Asian American Journalists Association demanded an apology. "I debased a feel-good sports moment. For that, I’m truly sorry," apologized Whitlock. Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. wrote on his Twitter page, "Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise." NBCNewYork.com in response to Mayweather noted that "no one of any skin color in the history of basketball has done in their first four starts what Lin pulled off for the Knicks last week." On February 15, the MSG Network during game coverage showed a fan's sign of Lin's face above a fortune cookie with the words "The Knicks Good Fortune", which some viewed as an ethnic stereotype. Sporting News wrote that the sign was "questionable", while CBS News called it "distasteful". Some Knicks teammates have been criticized for bowing to Lin during games. On February 17, ESPN used a racial slur on its mobile website in the headline "Chink in the Armor" after Lin had nine turnovers in New York’s loss to the Hornets. It was removed 35 minutes later, and ESPN apologized. The network fired the employee who posted the headline, and suspended ESPNews anchor Max Bretos for using the same reference earlier in the week. Bretos also apologized. Knicks radio announcer Spero Dedes also used the phrase on 1050 ESPN New York, but he was an employee of Madison Square Garden (MSG) and not ESPN. He apologized and was disciplined by MSG. Saturday Night Live in a cold open satirized the puns in reference to Lin's ethnicity; three commentators were featured happily making jokes about Lin's race, while a fourth drew contempt for making similar comments about black players. ESPN received emails suggesting that Lin was subjected to racial slurs in a manner that African-Americans are not. Ben & Jerry's created a frozen yogurt in honor of Lin named "Taste the Lin-Sanity". The company replaced the fortune cookies with waffle cookies and apologized to anyone offended by their Lin-Sanity flavor. J. A. Adande of ESPN.com wrote that the heightened ethnic sensitivity toward Asian Americans was "another way [Lin's] impact resonates far beyond Madison Square Garden." The AAJA released a set of guidelines to the media in response to what it termed as "factual inaccuracies about Lin's background as well as an alarming number of references that rely on stereotypes about Asians or Asian Americans."
Lin has a YouTube account, and has made videos with YouTube personalities Nigahiga and KevJumba. Lin and former Knicks teammate Landry Fields eventually appeared on a video on Lin's YouTube Channel revealing their "secret handshake". In a video interview conducted by Elie Seckbach, he asked Lin how it felt to be representing so many people. Lin responded by stating, "It's humbling, a privilege, and a honor. I'm really proud of being Chinese, I'm really proud of my parents being from Taiwan. I just thank God for the opportunity." In July 2011, the overseas Chinese Vivid Magazine named Lin one of its top eight influential Chinese-Americans. In April 2012, Lin was named to Time Magazine's 2012 list of the "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World." On June 18, 2012, NBA TV announced that Lin was the first-ever winner of the "Social Breakout Player of the Year" Award. He was also the winner of "The EPIC Award".
After he became a starter for the Knicks, the Associated Press called Lin "the most surprising story in the NBA". Bloomberg News wrote that Lin "has already become the most famous [Asian American NBA player]". Knicks fans developed nicknames for him along with a new lexicon inspired by his name, Lin. Most popular was the word Linsanity, the excitement over the unheralded Lin. Time.com ran an article titled, "It's Official: Linsanity Is for Real". Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson said, "The excitement [Lin] has caused in [Madison Square] Garden, man, I hadn't seen that in a long time." He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline "Against All Odds", which the Times called "the greatest tribute". He also made the cover of Time in Asia; Forbes wrote, "Congratulations Jeremy. You have now made the cover of Time the same number of times as Michael Jordan. Linsanity reigns on." Lin's story was also on the front-page of many Taipei newspapers. "I haven't done a computation, but it's fair to say that no player has created the interest and the frenzy in this short period of time, in any sport, that I'm aware of like Jeremy Lin has," said NBA commissioner David Stern.
The Knicks' success due to Lin's play reportedly contributed to the end of a dispute which had for 48 days prevented Time Warner Cable customers from watching Knicks games and other MSG Network programs. The team quickly began selling replicas of Lin's No. 17 jerseys and t-shirts, and the sales and traffic for its online store increased more than 3,000%; Lin's merchandise dominated the displays at Knicks stores, with those for the team's high-priced stars—Anthony, Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler—were moved to the sale racks. He had the best selling jersey in the NBA in February and March. For the one-year period ending April 2012, Lin had the second highest selling jersey in the league behind Derrick Rose. Both Nike and Adidas introduced Lin-related athletic apparel, and expected that his fame would help sales in China. His popularity was attributed with growing the NBA's popularity there since Yao Ming's retirement in the offseason; the audience for NBA games on television and online in China rose 39 percent over the previous season.
Within three weeks of his first game as a starter, at least seven e-books were being published on Lin, and the Global Language Monitor declared that Linsanity had met its criteria to be considered an English-language word. He appeared on a second consecutive Sports Illustrated cover, the first New York-based team athlete and the third NBA player in the magazine's history, after Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki. New York City restaurants introduced new food and bar items in honor or Lin. The city has about 450,000 residents of Chinese or Taiwanese descent—larger than the entire populations of NBA cities like Miami, Atlanta or Cleveland—and viewing parties to watch Lin play flourished in Manhattan's Chinatown. An airline advertised "Linsanely low prices", bids for his rookie card exceeded $21,000 on eBay, and the press circulated rumors—denied by Lin—that he was dating Kim Kardashian. Foreign Policy speculated on his potential impact on Sino-American relations, and Jack and Suzy Welch wrote that Lin's rise was a lesson to business leaders to not let bureaucracy stifle unproven talent. Despite his sudden fame Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart stated, “I knew [Lin] before he was Linmania. He’s still the same humble guy. The guy has not changed a bit, which is real special for a young man.”
Lin is an evangelical Christian who was a leader in Harvard's Asian American Christian Fellowship during his time there. He credited his NBA success to playing without pressure. "I've surrendered that to God. I'm not in a battle with what everybody else thinks anymore," said Lin. He hopes to become a pastor who can head up non-profit organizations, either home or abroad, and has talked of working in inner-city communities to help with underprivileged children. Lin's younger brother, Joseph, plays basketball for Hamilton College, and his older brother, Josh, is a dental student at New York University.
When Lin was asked if he was fluent in Chinese, he stated that he could understand it, but could use some help speaking it. In an interview conducted with NBADraft.net, Lin stated that he could only speak Mandarin, not Cantonese, and could read and write a little. He had also taken classes while attending Harvard to try to improve. Lin in early 2012 slept on his brother's couch in a one-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The night before his breakout game, he slept on the couch of teammate Landry Fields. He relocated to a luxury condo in White Plains, New York, after his Knicks contract became guaranteed.
- ^ In a video, Lin said he was born in Los Angeles and raised in Palo Alto. Some sources list him as being born in Palo Alto.
- ^ Palo Alto High School is across El Camino Real from the Stanford campus.
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