Jeremy Lin, who recently saved the New York Knickerbockers from irrelevance, if not eternal disgrace, has attracted an enormous amount of attention for many reasons.
He's played terrific basketball. He scores, he hands out assists, and he has led his team, which was previously catatonic, to a string of entertaining wins.
He played his college basketball at Harvard, which has produced more U.S. presidents than it has NBA players.
[sidebar title="Harvard Basketball" width="300" align="right"] Only A Game's Bill Littlefield recently stopped by Harvard to learn more about the Crimson's improbable rise into the Top 25. [/sidebar]He was not drafted. People love stories about players who weren't drafted and earn jobs in the NBA anyway. It makes them think that they can become doctors, even if they can't pass organic chemistry.
Two teams gave up on Lin. People love that sort of story, too. It makes them feel as if they can succeed, even after they've been fired and divorced ... even after they've been told by a publisher via a form letter that the novel they've worked on for years is awful. What do those experts know? They didn't think Jeremy Lin would make it, either.
Lin is Asian-American, which renders him exceedingly unusual in the NBA. There have been some Asians in the league. Several of them have been seven feet tall, which Lin is not.
The previously underachieving, injury-bedeviled team Lin has been saving from irrelevance and disgrace plays in New York, where people pay attention to sports in general, and to basketball in particular. Even when the Knicks are visiting another city, the many writers who cover basketball games played by them visit that city with Mr. Lin and his teammates. Those writers often outnumber the writers covering the home team. Sometimes they outnumber the fans in the arena.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather recently suggested that "Black players do what Jeremy Lin does every night and don't get the same praise." Mr. Mayweather may be about 11 percent right. You won't get to check the math on that unless Lin starts playing lousy after he's traded to Sacramento, and it turns out that he was a first round draft pick who went to UCLA and came out early.
What Mayweather failed to note is that all the players in the NBA, whatever the color of their skin, should be happy that Lin is doing what he's doing, since he is drawing lots of happy attention to the game they all play.
This program aired on February 14, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.