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Jeremy Lin Story: From Harvard To Undrafted Rookie To The Linsanity

Jeremy Lin Story: From Harvard To Undrafted Rookie To The Linsanity

Most fans remember the 2011–12 NBA season, where Jeremy Lin brought “Linsanity” to the league. But do many fans know how the story began for Lin?

In this article, we're going to go back to the beginning, to learn the struggles, to the big break, to the tragedy that's become Jeremy Lin's NBA career.

The Beginning

Jeremy Lin grew up in Palo Alto, California. From the beginning, people always doubted Lin.

He was born to two Taiwanese emigrants, and when people looked at his foreign ethnicity, they, unfortunately, doubted that he could ever play basketball.

Lin learned the game of basketball from his father, who would teach him at the local YMCA.

Even though Lin seemed to have some natural ability, he wasn't tall, which was one reason why people wrote him off.

Even with doubt coming at him in every direction, Lin didn't give up on himself. He played high school basketball, and by his senior year, he dominated the competition.

Lin averaged 15.1 points, 7.1 assists, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.0 steals per game as a senior.

He led Palo Alto High School to a 32–1 record and an upset victory over the nationally ranked Mater Dei, 51–47, for the California Interscholastic Federation Division II state title.

Lin was named first-team All-State and Northern California Division II Player of the Year.

College Career

After his senior year, Lin sent a DVD with highlights of his high school basketball career to the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, University of California, Los Angeles, and all the Ivy League schools.

The only teams that guaranteed him a spot on their teams were Harvard and Brown, but Ivy League schools do not offer sports scholarships.

The other schools only offered Lin a chance at a walk-on, so Lin decided to go to Harvard.

Lin started slow in college, only averaging 4.8 points per game. One of the Harvard coaches remembered Lin as “the [physically] weakest guy on the team”.

Once again, people doubted Lin, but this didn't faze him. Lin knew he needed to get stronger, so he did. In the last three years in college, Lin brought his points average up to 12.6, 17.8, and 16.4.

Lin wasn't a slouch in college. He became the first player in the history of the Ivy League to record at least 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists, and 200 steals.

NBA Career

Even with his impressive play, no NBA team drafted Lin in the 2010–11 NBA Draft.

The New York Times wrote this about Lin:

“Lin is 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 NBA.”

The NBA seemed to doubt him, the media doubted him, yet Lin didn't give up.

Lin kept working hard, developing his game. He eventually earned an invite to the Dallas Mavericks mini-camp and their Summer League team.

Lin's play during the summer league was impressive enough to earn him offers from the Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and an unnamed team from the East.

Things started to turn in Lin's favor. On July 21, 2010, Lin signed a two-year deal with the Golden State Warriors, his hometown team.

The opportunity to play in front of a large Asian-American community found Lin with an impressive three-year contract with Nike.

Even though he was undrafted, Lin's appearance in the NBA was groundbreaking. Lin became the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA.

Lin's time with the Warriors was butter sweet. The fact he played in the NBA was a dream come true, yet, he didn't get much playing time. He also was sent to the Warriors' D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, three times.

Lin finished his rookie season, playing 29 games and averaging 2.6 points on 38.9 percent shooting.

The next season the NBA suffered from a lockout. Lin decided to keep playing by joining the Dongguan Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association.

After the NBA season resumed, Lin was waived by the Warriors on the first day of training camp.

Lin's career, which seemed to be on the up and up, fell as quickly as it has risen. Once more, people doubted Lin.

Times got tough for Lin. It appeared that no team wanted him. But Lin didn't give up on himself. He continued to work on his game and his physical fitness. Lin added 15 pounds of muscle, yet, no NBA team reached out to him.

On December 12, 2011, the Houston Rockets claimed Lin off the waivers, but the Rockets quickly proved to be like the others… they doubted Lin.

Only 12 days after being picked up by the Rockets, they released him. Lin's NBA career appeared to be over before it started. Then, the New York Knicks called.


The New York Knicks were trying to find themselves in the 2011-12 NBA season. They waived their veteran point guard, Chauncey Billups, and guard Iman Shumpert went on the injury list.

The Knicks had two backup point guards behind Billups already in Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby. They also recently signed point guard, Baron Davis, but he was out with an injury as well.

So, the Knicks decided to claim Lin off the waivers list, and they admittedly haven't seen him play much, because of the lockout.

Lin was shoved to the back of the bench. He couldn't get any playing time. On top of not getting a chance to really play, Lin was technically homeless.

No, Lin wasn't sleeping on the streets, but he was crashing at his brother Joshua's apartment on the Lower East Side of New York City.

Lin couldn't even get a bed. He slept on Joshua's couch, and this further weighed on Lin's confidence.

In January, the Knicks sent Lin to the D-League. Once more, Lin was being doubted, but he'd show his potential in his first D-League game.

Lin scored 28 points while grabbing 11 rebounds, and handing out 12 assists in his D-League team, the BayHawks, victory.

Three days after being sent to the D-League, the Knicks recalled Lin. The night before their February 4th game against the New Jersey Nets, Lin now found himself sleeping on teammate Landry Fields' couch.

Lin's sleeping habits will soon change for the better. With the Knicks' current point guards struggling, Knicks coach, Mike D'Antoni, decided to give Lin a chance.

In the game against the Nets, Lin went off. He scored a career-high 25 points on 10-19 shooting. He also recorded five rebounds and seven assists.

The Knicks won the game, 99-92. The next game, Lin was moved into the starting lineup, and he scored 28 points while dishing out 8 assists.

After the Knicks defeated the Washington Wizards, where Lin scored 23 while handing out 10 assists, the Knicks got ready to play Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

By this time, the NBA world was going crazy over Lin. In fact, they dubbed his incredible play “Linsanity”.

It was reported that Bryant didn't know about Lin's recent great play before the game… he was about to get a front-row seat.

Bryant struggled shooting the ball in the game. He scored 34 points but on 11-29 shooting.

Lin, on the other hand, shot well. He shot 13-23 from the field and outscored Bryant with 38 points.

The Knicks won their fourth straight game by beating the Lakers 92-85. Bryant had this to say about Lin after the game:

“He played extremely well. If that’s the way he’s been playing these last three, four games, he played phenomenal,” Bryant said. “We watched tape on him, came up with a strategy we thought would be effective. [But] knocking down his jump shot, penetrating and getting past our guards into the paint, [it didn’t work].”

The Knicks would win their fifth straight game by defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves by the score of 100-98. Lin struggled from the field in the game, only shooting 8-24 for 20 points.

But the next game against the Toronto Raptors would be the biggest highlight of his career.

With 17 seconds remaining in a tied game, Lin had the ball in his hands. The game was played in Toronto, but you wouldn't have been able to tell.

The crowd cheered for Lin, and in a second, they'd roar for him. Lin took four dribbles to step closer to the three-point line before firing up the trey and knocking it down with .5 remaining.

Lin's first game-winner truly brought “Linsanity” into the mainstream. He also became the first NBA player to score at least 20 points and have seven assists in each of his first five starts.

Jeremy Lin was finally a somebody in the NBA. The question now was, how long can it last?

The Fall Of Lin

Lin would play in 26 games for the Knicks, before tearing his meniscus. In the games where Lin had a real chance to play, he averaged 18.5 points and 7.6 assists.

The Knicks went 16-10 with Lin leading the team and after the season, Lin became a restricted free agent.

Knicks fans and everyone else around the world just knew the Knicks would resign Lin. But the Knicks told Lin he should shop around to see what's out there.

The Houston Rockets offered Lin a $28.8 million contract over four years, with the fourth year of that deal being at the team's option.

It was the Knicks' time to match the deal and keep Lin. The Knicks didn't match the offer, and the Rockets changed their offer to a three-year, $25 million deal.

The Knicks again did not match the deal. Then, the Knicks signed free agent point guard, Raymond Felton.

This made up Lin's mind, so he signed with the Rockets, thinking it would be his team to run.

Then, the Rockets acquired James Harden and his ball-dominant play was what the Rockets went with.

Lin would never get the chance to play as he did in New York again. Even though Lin started all 82 games in the 2012-13 season, his numbers weren't that special, since Harden controlled the ball.

After the 2012-13 season, Lin's role would drop to becoming a sixth man for most of the games.

Lin would bounce around to five teams in the next five years, eventually landing in Toronto during the end of the 2018-19 season.

Lin averaged less than 19 minutes and only 7.0 points per game for the Toronto Raptors, but he won a championship as the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Even though Lin didn't play a major part on the team, he was still an NBA champion, and that's something no one can take away from him.

After his championship season, Lin became a free agent and no NBA jumped to sign him. Lin later said he felt like he hit “rock bottom”, and that the NBA had “kind of given up” on him.

Lin would eventually sign with the Beijing Ducks to play in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).

After his year in the CBA, Lin felt like he could make an NBA roster. He joined the Golden State Warriors G League team, the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Lin would play in nine games, averaging 19.8 points and 6.4 assists per game. But the Golden State Warriors never brought him up to their roster.

After the season, Lin returned to the Beijing Ducks in the CBA. He is currently a member of the Ducks.

Lin recently reflected on his time in New York, when “Linsanity” took over the world.

“My biggest regret is that I didn’t soak in every second of that experience. That’s my biggest regret. My biggest regret is that I was too immature and young to really learn how to not take that for granted. I was so set on the next season and rehabbing from my injury and what I wanted to happen next that I couldn’t stay in the moment and just appreciate that, and appreciate New York for who New York was and what New York did for me, who all those fans were, and what that meant. It was so special.”

Lin still has hopes to make it back to the NBA, and the fact he's only 33 and staying in shape by playing in the CBA, we all know he could help a team in a run at a title.

As NBA fans, we hope to see him back in the NBA, where he belongs.


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