Have you ever felt invisible? Jeremy Lin understands.
Today Lin is an NBA celebrity. Two weeks ago he was an unknown benchwarmer sleeping on his brother’s couch. He wondered if he was about to be fired for the third time in two months.
“We should have kept [Lin]. Did not know he was this good,” tweeted Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morley. Morley dumped Lin after less than two weeks.
“I would be lying if I thought he’d be this good,” mourns Golden State Co-Owner Joe Lacob. Lacob owned Lin for a year but hardly played him. Halfway through the first practice of this season, Lacob pulled Lin off the court and fired him.
Jeremy Lin is a misfit. He is ABC—American Born Chinese—and his parents are only 5’6”. There had never been an ABC in the NBA. However, at 6’3” tall, he led the Palo Alto High School basketball team to a California State Championship in 2006. The team won 32 of 33 games. Lin was named first team all-state. He sent DVDs of his play to Stanford, to Cal and to his dream school, UCLA. But all the “experts” knew: ABC’s don’t play basketball. No scholarship for invisible Jeremy Lin.
Lin settled for Harvard—not a breeding ground for NBA players. There had not been a Harvard player in the NBA in more than 50 years—not since 1954.
Lin went to work. While earning a 3.1 GPA in Economics, he played basketball against jeering fans. The bigots hollered: Wonton soup! Sweet and sour pork! Open your eyes! Orchestra is on the other side of campus! Go back to China! An opposing player called him, “Chink.” Lin responded by leading Harvard’s basketball team to its winningest season ever. Lin and Harvard defeated nationally ranked teams. He was one of 30 midseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award and one of 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award.
Yet invisible Jeremy Lin was totally overlooked in the NBA draft. The experts knew: ABC’s don’t play in the NBA. The NBA doesn’t draft from Harvard.
Jeremy Lin went to an NBA mini-camp, but no one saw him. For Lin, “The chemistry and the beauty of 5-on-5 is what basketball is all about.” Mini-camps showcase players 1-on-1, 2-on-2, and 3-on-3—but not 5-on-5.
Lin’s hometown team, the Golden State Warriors, signed Lin on contract, but they didn’t see him. The team owner, Lacob, said, “He’s a minimum, inexpensive asset…. Is he going to be a superstar? No.” Three times in one season Golden State demoted Lin to the D-league Reno Bighorns. On day one of his second season they sent him packing. Lin told the Rise Guys on 95.7 FM, “I definitely didn’t see it coming. I got pulled out midway through the first practice…. I just tried to hold on to a lot of the promises that God gave me through the Bible to have trust and to have joy in our sufferings and trust in his perfect plan. ”
Three days later Lin became a Houston Rocket. Twelve days later, on Christmas Eve 2011—Invisible Lin was fired.
Then, a New York Knick—sort of. The Knicks exported Lin to the D-League Erie BayHawks. After he demolished the Maine Red Claws, the Knicks brought him back up to sit on the bench some more.
Jeremy Lin went to bed on the couch in his brother’s one-bedroom apartment. He wondered if his NBA career was ending. He kept whispering to himself, “We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Then February came. One star was injured. Another star took a few days off to support his family when his brother died. Jeremy Lin started for the New York Knicks as point guard, and they won, and they won again, and they won again! Lin scored more points in his first three starts than the Knicks had seen in 30 years.
Last week Kobe Bryant became the fifth-highest scorer in NBA history, and on Friday Jeremy Lin faced the legend and the Lakers. The Knicks won yet again while Lin outscored and outassisted the Kobe.
Jeremy Lin has shed his cloak of invisibility. Despite the whirlwind of Lin-sanity, he says, “I want to be real. I don’t want to have a false image. I want people to see who I am and what God has done in my life.” When Lin finishes his NBA career, he wants to be a pastor.
Jeremy Lin was never invisible to God. Neither are you!