Every comic book lover worth their Star Wars lunchbox knows that the greatest of illustrated sagas are grounded in mesmerizing origin stories. A well-constructed origin story will give us insight into how the hero acquired their superpowers and why they pursue their goals with unflinching dedication. For example, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and motivated to fight crime after blaming himself for his uncle’s untimely death. I’m not sure Jeremy Lin’s start is ready for the exceedingly dramatic pages of Marvel comics, but his story has definitely captivated the world.
Young Jeremy Lin was not awarded a single athletic scholarship when he graduated from high school, but after an initial rejection from Harvard University, he went on to join the team. While playing for the Crimson he was unanimously chosen for the All-Ivy League First Team in his junior and senior years. After graduating with an economics degree and a 3.1 GPA, he went undrafted in 2010.
He made the rounds in the Summer League and eventually joined his beloved hometown team, the Golden State Warriors. Although his performance with the Warriors was decent, he was sent to an affiliated D-League team three times. Each time he was demoted, he was recalled back to the Warriors. Eventually Golden State made the decision to free up salary cap space and cut him on the first day of training camp after the 2011 lockout. Within in the same month, the New York Knicks picked him up off of waivers.
So far, in his history we see a pattern of hard work and setbacks. He was a decent player in high school, yet no scholarships. He was turned away from Harvard, but then later accepted. He was demoted to the D-League, but always returned. All the parts of a decent original story are coming into place, but in order for a man to reach legendary status there must be events that seem impossible or miraculous.
On February 4th, Lin was pulled from the bench to help a struggling Knicks’ offense. In that game he scored a career-high 25 points, had seven assists and outmatched the Nets’ All-Star point guard Deron Williams. Combined with his next two games, he put up 89 points, which is the most any NBA player has scored in their first three starts since the 1976 merger. And, in the process of becoming an international sensation, he may have inadvertently saved coach Mike D’Antoni’s job and allowed us all to delight in watching Kobe get schooled.
The unassuming, devoutly Christian, American of Taiwanese descent who has been sleeping on the couch at his brother’s one bedroom East Village apartment has driven the world to “Linsanity”. Stories like Lin’s resonate with us because it highlights the way we hope the world functions on a universally profound level. We want hard work to equal success, and we want the underdog to have his moment in the spotlight.
Through the remainder of the season we will witness reports that he is an overnight success that came from nowhere. But you’ll know the truth. Lin’s story won’t be concerned with tales of fame and fortune. No matter what shape his career takes over the coming years, he will be known for his perseverance, his ability, and his capacity for growth. And as international networks clamor to show NBA games in untapped markets, his potential for influence in the name of the underdog will undoubtedly be the hallmark of Lin’s legend.