Livin’ His Dream
A unique look at Jeremy Lin’s journey from up close and afar.
At season’s end in the D-League, I went back to the Bay Area. I had a friend with Warrior season tickets behind the score table so I caught a game before the regular season ended. Sitting next to me was legendary Bay Area rapper Mistah Fab. Known for his high energy and lyrics, Fab brought the same formula to the arena. The whole game, Mistah Fab was yelling comments to Warrior players or players from the other team. Some players responded and some didn’t. Fab always had impeccable timing, too. He would wait until the arena got quiet before giving is two cents to the millionaires on the court.
When Jeremy Lin went to check in the game, Fab didn’t hesitate to blurt out, “You got to show us something, baby! Give us something to be excited about!” Jeremy may not have heard Fab, but it sure looked like the pressure may have gotten to him. One of Jeremy’s three-point attempts was an air ball followed by Fab screaming, “You’ve got to knock that down! That’s what we pay you for!” Fab then sat down, leaned over and told me, “He’s not ready.”
All I could do was laugh, but on the inside my mind was going in circles. I’m sitting here, having a good time and laughing at criticism from a rapper when I believed I should be on that stage. I should be the one getting criticized. I hadn’t seen Jeremy do anything I was incapable of doing, but I was the one in the stands. It’s hard not to envy someone living your dream. Yet, in reality I was just a spectator watching an acquaintance live out his dream.
The ensuing summer brought an NBA lockout that devastated the basketball world. When the lockout ended in late fall, NBA training camps began as the season would be quickly underway. During this time, I saw the Warriors released Jeremy Lin and all I could think about was that last game I saw when he didn’t perform well. He was quickly picked up by the Houston Rockets before getting released again by the end of training camp. I felt bad for him, knowing that he would likely have to go overseas because the NBA season had started. Within days, he was picked up by the New York Knicks after an injury to rookie guard Iman Shumpert.
The year 2012 was a new beginning for Jeremy, as he got sent down to the Erie Bayhawks in the D-League while I was in Italy. Much like last season, Jeremy had an impressive performance posting a triple-double in his one and only outing in the D-League before getting recalled to the Knicks. One day, I read something on Twitter about Jeremy playing well, so I went and checked the stats. I saw he did a great job of scoring the ball and I was happy to know, with him playing well, he could likely keep his job. It wasn’t until a few days later when I overheard a couple of my teammates speaking in Italian, that I knew there was something special going on in the states. The only two words I understood in the convo was “Jeremy Lin” and I knew right away he must have done something newsworthy if it got Italians speaking his name.
Apparently, he went from almost being released to being the best story in sports. Jeremy wasn’t the same player that he was the year before. For a stretch of time, Jeremy was one of the premiere points guards in the best league in the world. “Linsanity” was officially global now. From the lunch tables at Palo Alto High School to the locker rooms in Teramo, Italy, Jeremy was a household name. I even heard rumors that the team I was playing for in Italy was in negotiations with Jeremy during the lockout. I have no idea how true this was but it was no secret everyone was jumping on the bandwagon. His success carried on for weeks until an injury ended his season, but his stamp on the ’11-12 season will never be forgotten.
Despite the injury, it was evident Jeremy was sure to get a healthy contract since he was a restricted free agent. As anticipated, Jeremy received an offer from the Houston Rockets that the Knicks were unable to match and now the question becomes: How will he perform now that he is no longer a secret? The future is uncertain but the journey to this point is definitely worthy of applause.
The whole world was shocked at his rise to fame but maybe we shouldn’t have been. He’s shocked us at every level in his career. Silly us for never giving him the proper respect. Like most competitors, he took it and now his life will never be the same. He has his face on t-shirts and had the coolest handshake in the game with an old teammate of mine, Landry Fields. Jeremy has reached superstar status, yet I’m sure his humble spirit hasn’t wavered.
I’ve had the privilege to witness his work ethic and his journey from up close and afar. I have no jealously or resentment toward his rise to success. Our paths have crossed many times and now that he has reached his destination, I have his footprints to learn from. Opportunity only comes around so often but if you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready.
Anthony Goods is a professional basketball player with experience domestically and overseas. Graduating from Stanford University in 2009, he has since played in the NBDL, Venezuela, Italy and is currently playing in Ukraine for BC Kyiv.