Monday, February 27, 2012

Lessons from Linsanity

Like many basketball fans worldwide, I've been captivated by the story of Jeremy Lin.  In case you've missed the seemingly endless coverage of the Jeremy Lin story (dubbed "Linsanity") on ESPN and elsewhere, Lin is the starting point guard for the NBA's New York Knicks.  Since getting his first NBA start earlier this month, Lin has been terrorizing the NBA.  Among the amazing bullet points about Lin are as follows:

  • Lin is a 2010 graduate of Harvard University.  As a 1998 graduate of Harvard Law School myself, I can tell you that it is very rare for a Harvard man to excel in the NBA.  How rare?  The last Crimson player in the NBA was Ed Smith in 1954!   
  • Lin is a Taiwanese-American and the first American-born NBA player ever to be of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.
  • Lin was undrafted out of college, waived by two other NBA teams, and was in-and-out of the NBA's developmental league (D-league) before landing as a back-up for the Knicks this year.  At some points during his brief NBA career his prospects were so uncertain that he was sleeping on his brother' couch rather than signing a lease on his own apartment.
  • The Knicks were 8-15 with their season circling the drain until injuries and poor play by other Knicks forced Lin into playing time and into the national spotlight.  Then, Linsanity struck and the Knicks won 7 straight games.
  • During Lin's first 5 games as a starter, he scored 136 points (27.2 points per game), the most by any NBA player in his first 5 games as a starter since the 1976 NBA-ABA merger.

There is very little about Linsanity that is not amazing and unprecedented, so what can we learn from all this?  Well, here are a few timeless nuggets that are reinforced by the Linsanity story:

1) Dream Big.  We shouldn't let stereotypes or other people's preconceived notions limit the dreams or goals we set for ourselves.  Jeremy Lin had let the facts that he played basketball at Harvard, or that he was a Taiwanese-American, or that he was undrafted, cause him to give up on his dream of playing in the NBA.  He believed in himself and eventually the rest of the world started believing in him too.

2) Be Ready.  Although Jeremy Lin began his career in the D-league and began the season as a back-up player, he worked hard and was prepared.  So when the coach called his name, he was ready to perform.  There is an old saying that "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity."  Lin wasn't lucky - he was prepared when he got his opportunity.

3)  Be Bold.  Beyond being ready, Lin was bold and played his game when his number was called.  Given his humble background, he knew he might not have many chances to show what he could do in the NBA.  So when he got the chance, he didn't play safe - he played with confidence and aggressiveness.  And that has made all of the difference.

4) Have Fun.  Lin's joy for the game is obvious on the court, making his journey more fun for all of us to follow.  As Mae West famously said, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."

No comments:

Post a Comment