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The Jeremy Lin Phenomenon

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons; Feb 14, 2012 at 04:47:11 AM

Jeremy Lin, the 23-year-old Asian-American basketball player now lighting up the NBAThe biggest sports story of the year is Jeremy Lin, the 23-year-old Asian-American basketball player now lighting up the NBA.

Here’s a guy who – despite being a high school star – was ignored when they handed out the college scholarships.

Instead of complaining, Lin worked even harder: He was accepted to Harvard (with no scholarship), got good grades, led the Harvard basketball team to its best season ever, and set all-time Ivy League records.

Incredibly, Lin was ignored again – totally passed over in the NBA draft. (Perhaps because he doesn’t look like the stereotypical basketball player...)

What happened next is an amazing testament to human perseverance.

A few weeks ago, Lin was languishing in obscurity, playing with the D-League Erie Pennsylvania Bayhawks.

Meanwhile, all four point guards on the New York Knick’s roster were being eliminated – one by one – due to injury or incompetence. That’s when Lin was propelled into the Knick’s starting line-up and got the chance to prove himself.

And that’s when it all clicked. In his first four starts, he scored 109 points – getting off to the fastest start of any player in NBA history. (See Lin tearing apart the LA Lakers for 38 points.) Overnight, Lin electrified the league and became a superstar.

Superlatives like Lincredible and Linsanity are being tweeted at record rates, and he has become a role model for 15 million Asian-Americans and billions of Asians worldwide.

The only one who isn't talking hype is Lin himself, a spiritual and humble person who credits his success to God and his teammates.

This story – of a man widely ignored, who believed in himself and shone bright when opportunity knocked – reminds me of the biblical story of King David (1-Samuel ch. 16).

David was a humble shepherd whom nobody paid much attention to. With a ruddy complexion, he looked a bit different. He was the youngest of eight sons.

Then the big day came: God told Shmuel the prophet to go to the house of Jesse and select the most worthy of the sons to be the King of Israel.

Shmuel examined seven of the sons, one by one, but did not find the special quality he was seeking. Then, almost as an afterthought, Jesse mentioned his youngest son, David.

Shmuel immediately knew that he was to coronate King David.

We all know the end of the story: David went on to slay the mighty Goliath, establish the Jewish capital in Jerusalem, compose the timeless Book of Psalms, and lead the Jewish people to extraordinary material and spiritual wealth.

None of us know when our moment will come. It may sometimes seem that life is conspiring against us, and we may question whether we even possess the talent to succeed. The key is to continue to work on ourselves, to believe in ourselves, and to keep our eye on the ball.

Then, when the right moment comes, we will recognize it, rise to the occasion, and achieve the true greatness we were all born to possess.

February 14, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Cheryl Sigman, February 14, 2012 3:47 PM

Never lose sight of what is important to you.

This is so true. I keep a mental record of my most positive life experiences and recall them when I am facing difficulties. I focus on my strengths and accomplishments in order to empower myself to move forward. I have learned not to take anything for granted. Showing kindness and respect for others, humility and understanding, are values that are important to me. Lin's character is to be admired, his abilities acknowledged!

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