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Linsanity! Lessons for Writers

By now, most Americans have heard about basketball star Jeremy Lin. He was signed to a contract by the New York Knicks last December after being cut from two other NBA teams, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. Lin was assigned to the Knicks’ NBA Development League (D-league) team, the Erie BayHawks. On January 20, he scored 28 points and handed out 12 assists for the BayHawks. The Knicks called him up shortly after that.

At the time, the Knicks were reeling. Knicks stars Carmelo Anthony went down with an injury and Amar’e Stoudemire left the team on bereavement leave after his brother’s death. Guard Baron Davis, brought in to bolster the backcourt, was still recovering from a serious back injury. Out of desperation, Coach Mike D’Antoni inserted Lin into the starting line-up. Lin sparked a five-game winning streak with his inspired play and won the hearts of New Yorkers, who are among the most discriminating basketball fans in the world. Within days, ‘Linsanity’ swept the nation. In a nationally televised game, Lin led the Knicks to a win over the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

Okay, that’s great, but what does Lin’s meteoric rise have to do with fiction writers? In a word, it teaches writers about perseverance. Lin has been told for his whole life that he was not good enough. Coming out of high school in the Bay Area, Lin received no scholarship offers. He sent his resume and a DVD to a number of Ivy League and Pac 10 schools. He got two offers, from Harvard and Brown. He chose Harvard, but Ivy League schools don’t offer athletic scholarships. When they saw him, Harvard’s coaches were not impressed. Lin steadily improved over the course of four years at Harvard. In his senior year, he averaged 16 points and 4.5 assists per game. He was a finalist for the prestigious Bob Cousy Award. More importantly he graduated from Harvard with a 3.1 grade point average and a degree in economics.

He was not drafted by any NBA team, but won a contract as a walk-on with the Warriors. He was assigned to the Warriors’ D-league team three times during his rookie season and the Warriors placed him on waivers the next season. The Houston Rockets claimed Lin, but they already had three guards signed to contracts and when they had an opportunity to sign another player, the Rockets cut Lin loose.

The Knicks claimed Lin off waivers on December 27, 2011 when rookie guard Iman Shumpert was injured. When he was called up in late January, Lin was so nervous about being cut he asked the team chaplain to say a prayer for him.

Why do I mention Lin’s many stops on his way to fame with the Knicks? He could have quit at any time. With a degree in economics from Harvard, Lin was surely looking at a promising future, but he never gave up on his dream of being a professional basketball player. Imagine playing for three different teams, being sent down to the D-league four times in two years, and still not giving up?

Lin is an inspiration to all, but his journey should provide hope to all writers. Pursue your dream with the same passion and determination Lin has shown. You never know.

Who has inspired you as a writer?

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