A look back at Linsanity (in case you missed it)

Prepared by Young-Bin Cho – Pathways to the Podium Research Assistant.

Linsanity. Over the course of two short weeks in February, Jeremy Lin became one of the greatest stories in sports of the past decade. His story took North America (perhaps the world?) by storm and it seemed everyone was jumping on the Linsanity bandwagon. Simply put, he is the classic underdog story. An Asian-American basketball player goes unnoticed out of high school after winning a state championship. After graduating from Harvard (not exactly a basketball powerhouse), Lin goes undrafted out of college. He is waived by two NBA teams before finally signing with the New York Knicks. And even then, he was a bench player up until early February.

Then came his breakout performance on February 4, 2012 versus the New Jersey Nets. His performance ignited the Knicks’ 7-game winning streak and his play soared to extraordinary levels, including a dramatic game-winning basket against the Toronto Raptors:

And while Linsanity has died down a bit in the past few weeks, Lin continues to perform at level sufficient to keep his name on the starting roster.

But why was Jeremy Lin’s rise to stardom so unforeseen? How had he gone unnoticed for so long? Here we take a look at Lin’s story as it unfolded in the blogosphere, and we present some of the differing explanations behind the Linsanity phenomenon.

Some have suggested that this was simply a long, arduous journey of perseverance and a testament to Jeremy Lin’s character. His hard work and dedication to his craft—two qualities that are so often seen in successful athletes—eventually culminated in his achievements. Howard Beck, of the New York Times reviews Jeremy’s story here in this article “The evolution of a point guard”.

Others suggested the decision-making of the NBA’s management is flawed. Dave Berri from Freakonomics, Wired Science journalist Jonah Lehrer, and Ron Dicker of the Huffington Post each touch on this idea while discussing some of the flawed paradigms that are currently employed by NBA teams during the NBA draft:

Freakonomics – Why did the NBA miss on Jeremy Lin?

Wired Science – What Jeremy Lin teaches us about Talent

Huffington Post – Jeremy Lin’s unexpected success

Or perhaps the talent scouts were right all along, and Jeremy Lin’s success can be attributed to him being a late bloomer. Maybe he simply wasn’t that good in college and in his early days in the NBA but his skills just developed over time. Basketball coach Brian McCormick suggests that Jeremy Lin’s perseverance and will to overcome rejection and obstacles are the main things to learn from this remarkable story:

Brian McCormick – The missing storyline from Linsanity

Alongside this tale of success, there are some who believe the buzz of Linsanity will be short-lived, and that his play will eventually drop to average or even below-average levels. Psychology Today’s Nate Kornell & Evan Schwartz of Sports of New York suggest that Jeremy Lin’s play of late will be unsustainable as the season progresses:

Psychology Today – Why is Jeremy Lin so good?

Sports of New York – Linsanity needs to stop

So while Lin’s play may decline over time and he may eventually come back down to earth, I sure hope it doesn’t. While teams will undoubtedly try to exploit his weaknesses (his tendency to drive right and to commit a lot of turnovers) in the near future, this corner will definitely be rooting for him to adapt and achieve even greater success. For the sole reasons that Jeremy Lin is a reminder that dreams are never too insane (unknown high school player to NBA star?); that we should always be prepared because you never know when your chance may come; and that dedication, commitment and hard work should never be underestimated. Here’s to Linsanity!

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About Pathways to the Podium Research Team

The Pathways to the Podium Research Team consists of: Ms. Melissa Hopwood, PhD Candidate, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Dr. Joe Baker, School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Dr. Clare MacMahon, School of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Dr. Damian Farrow, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.
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