Fourth and Long

Published 11:40 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If you don’t know who Jeremy Lin is, don’t feel bad. That just means you know as much about the Harvard graduate and current starting New York Knicks guard as almost every basketball fan and general manager did two weeks ago.

Here is the low down on Lin, the Readers Digest version as my father used to say. Lin played high school basketball in California. Despite winning a state championship and earning first team All-State, Lin did not get offers from either hometown school Stanford or nearby and dream school UCLA. Instead Lin took his 4.2 GPA and walked on at Harvard.

While at Harvard, Lin continued his exceptional play, garnering All-Ivy League First Team honors as a senior before graduating with a degree in economics and a 3.1 GPA. Despite receiving some attention as a Bob Cousy Award Finalist, Lin was invited to only eight NBA pre-draft workouts and went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Lin bounced from the NBA summer league to their developmental league and few different NBA teams before landing in New York after being waived by the Houston Rockets.

Truth be told, the only reason New York picked him up two days after Christmas was because of injuries to guards Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis.

The Knicks sent him to their D-League squad and, after an impressive group of performances, was asked to rejoin the Knicks in late January. On February 4 everything changed for Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks.

That night Lin put up 25 points, five boards and seven assists in a rare Knicks win over the nearby New Jersey Nets and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni decided to insert Lin into the starting lineup.

All Lin has done since is earn Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors and become the hottest sports topic since Tim Tebow. Lin’s story is as impressive as his game and neither is being overlooked anymore.

Two weeks ago this young man was sleeping on his brother’s couch and now he is the biggest headline in the city with the most headlines. That he went unnoticed for so long certainly has to be embarrassing for every general manager in the NBA. How impressive is it that he got to this point via a university that has produced more United States presidents than NBA players?

The human interest stories surrounding this guy are numerous.

On top of it all Lin is now an Asian-American basketball star in a league that has been desperately trying to expand its market in Asia.

Lin’s game is not perfect. He scores a lot of points and makes his teammates better however he turns the ball over… a lot.

Still, I expect Lin to be more than a flash in the pan. Lin and his game have what can only be described as an “it” factor and playing under D’Antoni with his style will only make Lin’s game flourish.

Lin is not the next big thing. Lin is the current big thing.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at