|Jeremy Lin swats 13th-ranked UConn and NBA draft prospect Jerome Dyson, in a game on 12/6/2009. Click the image above to enlarge.|
Now that the Jan 4, 2010 Harvard at Santa Clara event page is up, I feel compelled to tell you why I really, really want you to go with us to see Jeremy Lin make his potential once-in-a-lifetime appearance here in the Bay Area.
From my perspective, time is running short and I can’t spent the next 27 days proofreading and making this plea perfect because for the next 26 days, I need to be out fighting for my cause and referencing this. So if this comes out with flaws, so be it.
Let me say it bluntly:
If you attend the game on 1/4/2010, it is my firm belief that you will help, ever so slightly, Jeremy make it into the NBA.
Before I get into the “why”, let’s discuss the “how”
A great movie is about to come out this Friday, produced by Morgan Freeman and directed by Clint Eastwood. It is called Invictus, about Nelson Mandela and the 1995 Rugby World Cup. I don’t have any insider information on this movie and have not read the book on which it is based, but from my research, it’s about how Mandela leveraged the World Cup in South Africa that year to unify a country.
It is said that while 62,000 South Africans filled the stadium that day, it represented 40 million on the same team.
First of all, no, I’m not saying that I’m Nelson Mandela and Jeremy Lin is Francois Pienaar, the star rugby player played by Matt Damon. Let’s just get that out of the way. What I’m saying is this…
Just think back. If you were one of those 62,000 that attended that game that day, you witnessed history. You witnessed something bigger than you or me, but as big as you and me put together, with him and her sitting next to you, multiplied on and on throughout the whole stadium, and more.
You represented the progress of humanity that day.
I believe January 4th, 2010, at Santa Clara University’s Leavey Center, will be a smaller version of that.
Let me also make an important point. Making the NBA is not based solely on merit. In the same vein as Invictus, let me offer a smaller comparison: getting an NCAA scholarship is not based solely on merit.
Let’s say you’re a pretty darn good point guard, good enough to lead your high school varsity basketball team to a dramatic upset of the incumbent perennial champion. No one expected you to win, but you did it. Not only that, you were named state player of the year in your school’s division, the same division as that perennial powerhouse.
Would you even bother sending video highlights to coaches? Don’t you think an NCAA scholarship would be waiting at your front door?
If you’re a Jeremy Lin fan, you know that what I just described happened to Jeremy. That’s why he’s playing at Harvard, not Duke. Ivy League, not ACC. Not Pac Ten, not even West Coast Conference.
So if history is any indication, if the NCAA is as close an example as you can have to the NBA, then no matter what Jeremy does on the court, there are other forces at play when it comes to getting drafted.
Take the JabbaWockeeZ, for example. The JabbaWockeeZ have always been the JabbaWockeeZ. They didn’t miraculously become what they are after a few episodes on America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC). They’d been there the whole time. It was the masses that made them famous.
When they made their historic championship performance in the premiere season of ABDC, of course, they performed at their best. But don’t you think that their rabid fans packing the stands helped out? The judges had to see that the JabbaWockeeZ were for real. Viewers had to see that on TV, that the JabbaWockeeZ could become heroes to a crowd.
I wouldn’t be surprised if someone at Gatorade was observing on TV that day. Next thing you know, they’re on the same Gatorade commercial alongside Bill Russell and Muhammad Ali, broadcast nationwide during the NBA Playoffs.
Also, I’ve learned that getting drafted (or not) plays a significant role in one’s basketball career. Once you are drafted, you are basically annointed “NBA-caliber” by supposedly smart basketball people. There’s no going back. Players that are drafted will have an advantage over players that are not, because an NBA executive’s job is on the line if a pick turns out to be embarrassingly incorrect. It is exceedingly rare for an undrafted player to make the NBA, although it is certainly possible.
So, how does one get drafted? Well, the usual formula for success is to get into a marquee NCAA Division I program, but Jeremy’s well past that point. Incidentally, Jeremy’s body finally started to catch up with this skill last summer, and this past summer, he was finally on the fast track where skill and athleticism were coming together at the same time. So there was no option to transfer. He’s a bit of a late bloomer, depending on how you look at it.
There’s also the NBA pre-draft camps and things like that, but anything can happen there. It helps if you have people who have strong reputations in judging NBA talent in your corner, but like everything that has happened to Jeremy, he hasn’t been afforded that opportunity because of the holy war that goes on behind-the-scenes between the angels and demons of both the NCAA and NBA.
But like I said, there are other forces in play. A high-powered NBA-related mover-and-shaker once told me that the NBA is almost like a circus. Mind you, this is the same guy who put the pre-draft combine into the NBA 2K10 video game. He couldn’t be more on point, and this might just benefit Jeremy. Look at how the influx of talent started generation by generation way back in the beginning with whites, then blacks, then Europeans, and now foreigners in general. Seriously, I find it hard to believe that the Dallas Mavericks couldn’t have found a similar American player, perhaps black, compared to Rodrigue Beaubois of Guadelupe or J.J. Barea of Puerto Rico. These are two players who have unique stories to tell. If their game is on par with other draft prospects, then the guy with the unique story to tell gets the spot.
Well, maybe. There are only 30 NBA teams and some may or may not fit the mold of the traveling circus. We shall see.
Unfortunately, being raised in the projects of an American metro is no longer a unique story. At the same time, it has become the accepted story. The benefit of the accepted story is that you are automatically assumed to be a good player. So there’s advantages and disadvantages for being the flavor of the month or the dominant majority.
Our mission here is in that unique story to tell, to help make Jeremy the eventual flavor of the month.
When Jeremy’s name comes up in pre-draft camps, NBA people will see the tapes against UConn. But I’d be shocked if they didn’t use Google. The NBA isn’t some huge magical mystery machine. There are human beings working for these teams. They use Google, trust me. Wouldn’t it be grand if they came upon the story of 1/4/2010, when hundreds of Asian-Americans from his hometown came out to see him play in his return visit?
Will it be the only deciding factor? Of course not. Jeremy still needs to play like he’s been playing, hopefully even better, and fortify his stats. Harvard needs to keep winning. But it’s a factor, no matter how small.
Hey, I’ve still got the big picture in mind. Golden eggs don’t happen without the Golden Goose. NBA Cares doesn’t happen without the NBA. There’s no cause without the root. Jeremy still needs to perform. If Jeremy performs, makes his team better, and Harvard gets into the NCAA by winning the Ivy League championship, then 1/4/2010 doesn’t matter. Sure, I know that. I’m one of the happiest men on Earth if that happens.
And at the end of the day, it’s no different than Earl Woods proclaiming that Tiger would have the power the change humanity. Sure it may be true, but let the kid play golf, will ya? I know that. But it doesn’t change what’s among us, in society, already evident to me. Whether Jeremy likes it or not, if he makes the NBA, he will change humanity as it relates to Asian-Americans and basketball. Again, it’s bigger than me or you, or him.
So along those lines, I hope Jeremy or any of his friends or family never reads this. It’s better if they don’t worry about it. The last thing he needs is added pressure and yet another reason to try to win a game, or take away his focus from helping a young Harvard squad win one basketball game together as a team.
But that still doesn’t mean you should skip out on this game.
There are other reasons to grab tickets to this game. Let’s suppose Jeremy does not make the NBA. Then he will almost certainly leave for Europe, with Asia as a backup, and play overseas. At that point, 1/4/2010 will become Jeremy’s last major appearance in an arena on American soil, let alone the Bay Area.
As for the NBA Development League, which is played in small venues largely dotted throughout the Midwest, it’s a little early to speculate, but my guess is that he will get offers that he can’t refuse overseas. In fact , it may increase his chances of making the NBA if he goes to Europe first, at which point we still won’t know if he’ll eventually make the NBA. I just don’t see the NBDL as a good fit, assuming he’ll be somewhat in control of his destiny if he’s not drafted into the NBA. At least for now, logically, I envision him less playing in the NBDL, than in the NBA or Europe, because he’s that good.
ESPN’s renowned, #1 analyst for NCAA basketball, Jay Bilas, wrote this past Monday, the day after watching Jeremy Lin play against UConn…
Jeremy Lin can play in any league anywhere.
Everytime I brag about him, such as after his buzzer-beater a few weeks ago, people still go “meh”, then he’ll do something like go out and score 30 points on #13 UConn last Sunday, with TWO slam dunks. Have you ever seen an Asian man dunk in a game? Have you ever seen it live? Have you ever seen an Asian as the best basketball player inside an arena packed with thousands of people?
Here’s your chance.
Do want to see this in the NBA? Do you want to see him on an ESPN highlight somewhere, wearing any one of thirty possible NBA jerseys? Wouldn’t you be proud?
Here’s your chance to contribute, ever so slightly, to the Jeremy Lin Movement.
And especially for you ballers out there. Especially those of you who are of Asian descent. Remember that day way back when, when you were young, you were bored, you just got done watching the Lakers beat the Supersonics on a lazy Sunday, and you were itching to play basketball?
So you went out to the local basketball court, by yourself.
When you got there, you didn’t get on the next five, even though you saw the guy who called “next” only had three. Two other guys, non-Asians, showed up after you did and he picked them up instead of you.
So you had to call “next” after that to make sure you got on. You had a random team of blacks, whites, Hispanics, and you. Did they pass you the ball? When you touched the ball, weren’t they all screaming at you to pass them the ball?
Deep down inside, isn’t that why you play in Dream League today?
Someone on the DIME Magazine comment board for their recent Jeremy Lin blogpost said it best…
anytime i walk on the court w/o nonasians i feel like i gota prove something
If you’re an asianballer, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not, then you just saw a glimpse of the discrimination that occurs on American playgrounds everyday.
And finally, if you’re a baller, no one in the grassroots can pay a bigger compliment than this, as tweeted by Twitter user @GMSTRory…
Yo I’m watching Uconn vs Harvard. Harvard has this Asian nigga named Jeremy Lin. He’s the truth. Nigga had 30 on Uconn.
When you hear that, all the annoying little discriminatory things from the past begin to rest easier. You start to think, maybe the next generation of Asian kids won’t ever need to go through what I went through.
And we haven’t even touched on the “model minority” or “bamboo ceiling” issues. Some other day, perhaps.
Wouldn’t that be great if urban kids can also come out and watch Jeremy play? They can. Fortunately, we here at Dream League, that’s what we do. We run basketball leagues, we employ kids from the projects and we even let them play with us. We get to know them, they get to know us. We were dispelling the notion to the kids from the projects that Asians couldn’t play basketball long before Jeremy Lin arrived.
With every $5 donation to Dream League, I’ve set it up so that they will attend the game, chaperoned by my fellow high school principals and community center directors, who are Dream League’s gym coordinators.
To entice you to work and spread the word, I have a special going on. Get 10 people to go at the less-than General Admission price of $8.88 (normally $10), and I give you a pair of Lower Reserved tickets ($20) for free.
By the time Jeremy goes pro somewhere on the planet, you will look back on this and say, “Damn, what a bargain.”
Me, I’m calling every single person I know. This is a cause worth fighting for. Join me. It’s no different than forcing a closure of a campus building to protest your student fee hikes. You’ll likely not get arrested and have a higher chance of seeing an Asian man dunk, to boot.
Jeremy Lin in the NBA would pave the path for so many other Jeremy Lins to follow, from those on any random playground court in America to the full-fledged AAU teams playing in tournaments in gyms.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. — Confucius
Please, recognize that what you’re doing now could lead to something great.
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