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Steinberg: Lin's story refreshing, inspirational

February 18, 2012|By Leigh Steinberg

Just as we start to get despondent about a sports page that reads like the business section or even worse, the crime beat, along comes a new refreshing young star to give us excitement and hope.

Jeremy Lin is the hottest sensation in the NBA this year and his story is compelling. He grew up in Palo Alto and starred as a point guard for his high school team. His team actually beat Mater Dei High in a dramatic matchup.

The Asian-American value system and priorities are very similar to Jewish families. Family is the highest priority. Education is stressed.

Self discipline and a sterling work ethic are drilled into these kids. I grew up in a family like that and God forbid I ever brought home a grade lower than an A.

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Good Chinese-American boys are expected to excel academically. There is no debate about mandatory college attendance with the almost obligatory graduate school to follow. Families like these produce attorneys, doctors, scientists, engineers and professors. That is why Asian-Americans dominate the high school valedictorian category and rarely need an affirmative action program to be accepted to institutions of higher learning.

These families don't tend to produce NBA stars.

Jeremy didn't receive scholarship offers to play college basketball. He applied to and was accepted to Harvard University as a regular student.

He walked on the basketball team and ended up setting virtually every record in the history of Harvard basketball. In his junior year he was the only Division 1 men's player to be ranked in the top 10 of his conference in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and three-point shot percentage.

A Harvard degree offers access to the highest level of business and political success. He had a 3.1 grade-point average in economics even with the distraction of practice and games. But Jeremy loved basketball. However, the NBA didn't return that love and he went undrafted in the NBA Draft.

But he was determined and played in the NBA Developmental League. Only about 20% of these players ever receive an invitation to join an NBA team. The crowds are minuscule, the living conditions are hard, the average salary ranges from $12,000 to $15,000. But Jeremy had a dream.

He was finally invited to the Golden State Warriors camp. Because of the attenuated lockout and labor negotiations training camps did not allow as many chances for aspiring players to work their way on to teams.

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