We love a great underdog story. Who doesn’t? Someone comes from against all odds and defies everything logical.
Many don’t give them hope, but they know something that we don’t.
We read those stories and it inspires us to the bone. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to do, I truly believe reading stories of the underdogs gives you that push when you need it.
I love sports and the underdog stories that come out of it. Sports are still the best reality show on television. Hollywood couldn’t write it some of the unbelievable stories.
Last football season, there was Tim Tebow. Though he succeeded and won championships in high school, and college, many experts doubted he could succeed in the NFL. He couldn’t throw. He wasn’t a typical NFL quarterback.
Last season he took a 1-4 Denver team and took them to the playoffs. He was THE story in the NFL last season. Even Tebowing became a worlwide sensation.
Now in the NBA there is someone doing things no one could have imagined. You may not follow the NBA, but his story will definitely inspire you.
Jeremy Lin has taken the NBA by surprise in just one week. He went from sleeping on couches to having NBA players, celebrities, the media all talking about him. His story has truly been that insane. He’s gone from 70,000 to 199,314 Twitter followers in three days.
If you follow sports, then you know he’s the best story to come out of sports this year. If not, you’ll appreciate his story.
He’s the first American born Chinese player in the NBA. As a Chinese-American, I’m so excited for his success, but his story is inspiring for any race.
Before February 4th, he was sleeping on couches. His status as a professional basketball player was up in the air. Now? There’s one word to describe it: Linsanity.
From the beginning
His parents are from Taiwan. In Taiwan, they focus on academics over athletics, but his dad watched some basketball on TV and immediately fell in love with it.
He wanted to come to the US for two reasons: to finish his Ph.D and watch NBA basketball.
His first job in Los Angeles was long and hard so he wanted a way to relieve some stress. Basketball seemed like a great way.
There was one problem. He had never picked up a basketball before! He studied NBA players like he was studying for an exam. He emulated them.
It took years before he was comfortable playing a pickup game.
Later when he had three boys, he taught them the basics. He was their first basketball coach.
In high school, despite being a great player, Jeremy Lin was ridiculed for being Asian. Asians just don’t belong on the basketball court. By his senior year, he won the respect of those same people. Jeremy led his high school to a state championship.
Despite being the best player in California by many publications, he didn’t receive a single Division 1 scholarship offer.
Did race play a factor? He believes so.
Harvard offered him the chance to play, but offered no athletic scholarship. He jumped at the chance to play Division 1 basketball.
He excelled on the court, leading Harvard to new basketball heights. Yet he wasn’t drafted by any NBA team. Harvard just doesn’t produce many NBA players. There have been only four and none since 1954.
Jeremy Lin gets a shot at his dream…kinda
His hometown team, the Golden State Warriors signed him as a free agent in 2010. He barely played and only averaged 2.6 points a game, but cheered loudly by the Asian community every time he played. He was sent to the minor league a few times to work on his game.
It never worked out and he was released just after one season. The Houston Rockets signed him in the preseason this year and then released before the season began.
He was becoming another journeyman NBA basketball player. Two teams in less than two seasons.
He wanted to not just be on a team and sit at the end of the bench, but part of the mix.
He never lost his belief in his abilities.
From couch to savior for the New York Knicks
The Knicks command a lot of attention in New York. It’s the Big Apple! Madison Square Garden is one of the most legendary arenas for basketball.
They’ve tried to put together an championship team since 1973. They have a lineup that looks great on paper. They have two superstars that make a combined $38 million this year, but came into February 4th losing 11 out of 13 games.
Jeremy Lin signed with the Knicks on December 27th. They had injuries and needed someone to be the third string point guard. He played sparingly in a few games, and then sent to the minor leagues again. He was played so well there, they recalled him just after one game.
With the team still struggling, the coach gave him a chance to play serious minutes on February 4th. Why not? They couldn’t be doing worse.
For Jeremy, this was his chance to seize the opportunity. He was playing for his NBA career (explanation later). To everyone’s surprise, he scored 25 points and the team won.
Was this just a fluke? No matter. The coach started him the next game. Then he started the next and the next. How did he do?
25 points, 7 assists and the win
28 points, 8 assists and the win
23 points, 10 assists and the win
This was without their best two players. Jeremy became THE best player on the team and made others play even better.
He was becoming the biggest superstar in a city that has many of them already. He went from a nobody to having the home fans were chanting M-V-P.
The coach said he had never seen anything like it before. That’s what everyone else was saying too.
Jeremy Lin vs Kobe Bryant
Then it was the real test again Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Just two seasons ago they won the NBA championship. The Knicks beat mediocre teams before, but now they were facing one of the best.
All the pressure would definitely get to him, right? Kobe Bryant would show this kid this was all pure luck.
Instead, Jeremy played the best game of his career.
He silenced all the doubters by scoring 38 point with seven assists! They dominated the Lakers 92-85.
Jeremy scored the most points in his first three starts than any other player since the NBA/ABA merger. More than Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant. Amazing.
His legend was growing by the game.
Linsanity really took off now. NBA players around the league were tweeting about his success. Players looking for a chance like him were inspired by what he had done. The media couldn’t get enough of his story.
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.”
Kobe Bryant said after the game, “If you can go back and look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning, but no one ever noticed. It’s a testament to perseverance and hard work. It is a good example to kids everywhere.”
How about the Houston Rockets who signed him but cut him in the preseason? The general manager admitted he made a mistake.
He’s given hope to a team that looked in bad shape. He was giving hope to a city desperate for a basketball hero.
He wasn’t even guaranteed to stick around. After the second game was the deadline to cut him and not have to guarantee the rest of his contract.
In fact, ESPN reported that the team was leaning towards letting him go before his breakout game. They had until Feb 6th to release him without having to pay the remainder of his $788,000 contract. They even were looking for his replacement. That’s why the coach gave him a chance to play. They had to evaluate him. That’s why he was playing for his career.
After his second start, and their third straight win, they guaranteed his contract.
Before he was sleeping on his brother’s couch. You can never be too sure when you’re playing for your contract, but now can afford a place of his own.
An undrafted player cut by two teams in only his second year isn’t supposed to do this. Harvard doesn’t produced NBA stars.
He’s defied all expectations. He probably couldn’t pay for his own meal in New York City if he wanted to.
His teammates talk about how this is the most fun they’ve had.
His jersey sold out in the arena. Television ratings in New York City are up. He’s getting tons of coverage in China and Taiwan, both who are crazy about the NBA.
Thus far, they’ve won six games in a row. His last name Lin, is being made into new words such as Linspirational, Linspiring, Linning, Lincredicble.
It’s a true underdog story that we can all appreciate.
Five lessons you can can learn from Jeremy Lin
- Beyond his stats and the wins, he’s given so many out there hope. Hope that what they’re doing now will mean something in the future. Hope that others will achieve their dreams despite setbacks they have faced.
- He didn’t let setbacks stop himself from working hard and waiting for that opportunity. His success the past week didn’t happen overnight. He excelled at every level through his hard work.
- If he would have listened to those who doubted him, he would have given up his dream at playing basketball.
- Despite the whirlwind media attention, he’s remained so humble after the game. He’s a team player first and foremost.
- Finally, believe in yourself when no one else does.
Have you overcome seemingly impossible odds and beat expectations to do something?
What are some great underdog stories you love?