Friday, February 24, 2012

Jeremy Lin

Don't know how many of you are basketball fans or have heard of the new Knicks Asian point guard out of Harvard that no one has ever heard of.  His name is Jeremy Lin and they are calling it 'Linsanity!' Not only is he a phenomenal player who came out of nowhere but he is also (and more importantly) a committed Christian. 

From World magazine:

Jeremy Lin, then a third-string point guard for the NBA's New York Knicks, found himself suddenly in the limelight a little more than a week ago after leading his team to a surprise victory against the New Jersey Nets. Before coach Mike D'Antoni put Lin in the game out of desperation, few Knicks fans, let alone anyone else, had ever heard of the Harvard grad already cut from two other NBA teams.

But now, as he leads the Knicks on a seven-game-and-counting winning streak, everyone's talking about Lin, his underdog story and his faith.

Sports commentators are calling Lin the "Taiwanese Tebow," a nod to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who sparked so much debate last year about public displays of faith. Although the men share a habit of giving God glory during post-game interviews, Lin's friends say the quiet and unassuming basketball player has little in common with the demonstrative football star.

But Lin's story of perseverance on the basketball court cannot be separated from his testimony of dedication to God, a faith that sustained him through rejection, humiliation and now, unexpected fame. Through each setback Lin encountered on his way to becoming a household name, the devout basketball player trusted God and used his trials to encourage others.

During a conference put on by River of Life Christian Church in Santa Clara, Calif., last year, Lin described his journey to the NBA as a roller coaster ride between euphoria and despair.

When he signed with the Golden State Warriors in July, 2010, Lin said he had confidence in his strong faith, remembering the spiritual training he had at Harvard. He thought he was grounded enough to face life in the NBA. Soon, however, Lin was deluged by media attention and thousands of Facebook friend requests.

"I felt like I was on top of the world," Lin said. "My life changed overnight."

But during training camp, Lin discovered he wasn't as ready for the big leagues as he thought. His teammates outperformed him on the court and even his coaches' encouragement couldn't lift his spirits.

"I was humbled very quickly," Lin said.

Lin eventually found himself headed for the NBA's Developmental League, where teams send players who need to hone their skills. Near despair, Lin wrote in his personal diary that he felt like a failure after putting so much pressure on himself to make the NBA.

"This is probably the closest to depression I've been," he wrote in an entry on Dec. 29, 2010. "I lack confidence on the court, I'm not having fun playing basketball anymore, I hate being in the D-league and I want to rejoin the Warriors. I feel embarrassed and like a failure."

Just a few days later, he decided his basketball career was a mistake: "I wish I had never signed with the Warriors," he wrote on Jan. 1, 2011.

"That's really the amount of pressure and the amount of stress I put on myself, to the point where I really lost my joy, my passion and my purpose in basketball," Lin told last year's conference attendees.

At that point, none of the fame and glamour that come with playing in the NBA mattered to Lin.

"None of the paychecks, the car, the fame, none of the NBA lifestyle, none of that stuff, my dream job, my dream life, none of that meant anything to me anymore...My happiness was dependent on how well I played," he said.

Lin realized that basketball had become an idol in his life, and decided to return to trusting God for his future.

"For me to not trust God is crazy," Lin said, listing all of the ways God had paved his way to the NBA, including his dad's love for basketball, his coaches, and his spiritual growth at Harvard.

Adrian Tam, who served as Lin's spiritual mentor at Harvard, said Lin has a "very strong and vibrant faith." During his last year at Harvard, in 2010, the player's busy schedule kept him from attending the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian-American Christian Fellowship meetings on Friday nights, so he and Tam got together whenever he had a break from classes and practice.

"We would talk about different aspects of following Christ and what that looks like," Tam told World on Campus. "We read a book together, 'Too Busy Not to Pray,' and we would look for ways that he could engage in prayer. He really wanted to have prayer be…a regular thread in his life."

Lin grew up in the church, so he was "thrown off guard" by the godless culture of the Harvard basketball team, Tam said. He got involved with the school's Asian-American Christian Fellowship, led a Bible study for two years for both Christians and non-Christians, and made concerted efforts to reach out to his non-Christian roommates. Tam said Lin was one of two practicing Christians on the basketball team, and when he made efforts to "mobilize" their faith, he did not preach at them.

"He always did it in a way that was respectful and sensitive," Tam said.

pre-season games for Houston before the team cut him loose. He joined the Knicks on Dec. 27 as a third-string back-up point guard. He had to compete for a spot on the roster and made another trip to the D-League in late January.

At the beginning of February, the team considered cutting Lin to make room under the salary cap for a new player. But on Feb. 4, with the team still licking its wounds from a tough loss against the Boston Celtics, D'Antoni decided to give Lin a shot. After playing just 55 minutes during the team's first 23 games, Lin came off the bench to score 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists, leading his team to a 99-92 victory over the Nets.

Questions about Lin and shock over his performance exploded on Twitter and other social networks. As he continued to lead the Knicks on a winning streak, sports writers scrambled to find out more about the 23-year-old from Palo Alto, Calif. Media commentators dubbed the Internet frenzy "Linsanity." It took about a week for word of Lin's faith to spread. Comparisons to Tebow soon followed.

Tam, Lin's Harvard mentor, says the two athletes may share a common faith but have very different ways of showing it. He hesitated when asked whether Lin would become a cultural icon like Tebow.

"He's a very friendly, non-assuming person, so even though he is very bright and very accomplished, you wouldn't be able to tell just by sitting around reading the Bible together or praying together," he said of his friend.

While Lin might not share Tebow's flair for attention, both men have a commitment to sharing their faith and backing it up with their actions, Tam said: "They both want to give all the credit to God."

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