Jeremy Lin, an unlikely basketball star


New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin, left, and teammate Jared Jeffries react after a play during an NBA basketball game last week against the Los Angeles Lakers in New York. Lin has emerged this season as a top player for the Knicks. (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)
February 15, 2012

Jeremy Lin is the biggest story in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

It’s okay if you haven’t heard of him. Until two weeks ago, hardly anyone knew about Lin. No NBA team drafted him after he graduated from college in 2010. Lin got cut by two teams, before making the New York Knicks team this season. But Lin mostly sat on the bench.

Because of injuries to other Knicks’ players, Lin finally got a chance to play. In the past six games has wowed everyone. He has averaged about 27 points, eight assists and four rebounds in leading the Knicks to six straight wins. Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors, he scored the last six points to complete the Knicks’ comeback win, including a three-pointer to break a tie with less than a second left in the game.

Lin’s opponents are impressed. “If you go back and look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning, but no one ever noticed,” said Kobe Bryant said after Lin scored 38 points against the Lakers.

Maybe no one noticed Lin’s ability because Lin does not seem like your regular NBA basketball player.

Lin is not that big. He is listed at 6 feet, 3 inches. He also graduated from Harvard University. Harvard is a great school, but it’s not a basketball power like Duke, Kentucky or Kansas. No one from Harvard has played in the NBA in more than 50 years.

Finally, Lin is Asian American; he was born in California but his parents came from Taiwan. Not many Asian Americans play in the NBA.

But Lin is a good reminder to kids that just because you don’t look like a player doesn’t mean you can’t play. There are lots of examples of athletes who don’t look typical for their sport but are terrific players.

Years ago, people said golf was hard for lefties. Not many lefties played and it was difficult to find good clubs. Phil Mickelson, who is right-handed, plays golf left-handed and Sunday won his 40th PGA title. (Mickelson apparently learned to play left-handed by “mirroring” his dad’s right-handed swing!)

Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints was told for years that he was too short to play quarterback (he’s listed at 6 feet). Brees set a National Football League record this past season by passing for 5,476 yards.

Dara Torres was 41 years old when she returned to competitive swimming in 2008. Most people thought she was much too old for the Olympics. Torres not only made the U.S. team, she won three silver medals. She is training for the 2012 Olympics.

Prince Fielder is so big, he looks more like a football lineman than a baseball player. But he can hit. Fielder slugged 228 home runs in the past six seasons.

If you like a sport, play the sport. Don’t let people say you’re too small or don’t look like a player. Practice hard, have fun and see how far your talent takes you.

Jeremy Lin’s talent is taking him right to the top.

Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 17 sports books for kids. His latest are: “Quarterback Season” and “Real Hoops.”

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