Steinberg: Lin's story refreshing, inspirational

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.

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.

Jeremy was cut adrift by the Golden State Warriors on the first day of training camp which made his chances of being picked up by another team very problematic. But Jeremy had a dream: to become the first Chinese-American athlete to play in the NBA. Then in December he was claimed off waivers by the Houston Rockets and lasted 12 days before being waived. He then was signed by the New York Knicks and assigned to their D League team. A couple weeks ago he was brought up by the Knicks because of an injury.

He hit the court running. He compiled the highest scoring first five games in the history of the NBA., replacing Shaquille O'Neal.

He scored 38 points against the vaunted Lakers and made their East Coast visit frustrating. It's almost as if no one has found a way to stop him.

He has become a major media phenomenon. President Obama has called his story "one that transcends the sport itself."

He has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The sales and traffic for the Knicks' online store have risen more than 3,000% since his debut.

There is a Twitter page which is solely dedicated to Lin puns. He has electrified the Asian-American community. And if he continues to be this successful he will be a major Madison Avenue draw for endorsements.

Expect to see him on every national talk show.

So for any kid discouraged with lack of success and frustration in any endeavor, hang in there. Follow your dreams like Jeremy.

LEIGH STEINBERG is a renowned sports agent, author, advocate, speaker and humanitarian. His column appears weekly. Follow Leigh on Twitter @steinbergsports or

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