Hoop dreams

Yesterday, I had many thoughts swirling in my head, and I couldn’t figure out a way to calm the tempest. In each spare moment, I was thinking of someone, and it wasn’t my wife. It wasn’t even Jesus.

It was Jeremy Lin.

I just can’t get him out of my head. And perhaps it’s right for now. It is historic. The Asian American community has its Jackie Robinson.

There’s a lot to like. We love underdogs. That has appeal that goes beyond Asian American circles. No one recognized who he was. He’s like an Asian Harry Potter, stuck under some cupboard. He had suffered in obscurity, though he clearly had the talent and deeds done. He was probably overlooked — whether consciously or not — because of his ethnicity. No one gave him the time of day — or at least, time in the game.

But look at him now. Playing in the NBA. Not just on a team, but a marquee player. He’s outscoring some of the best in the league. And not because he’s super-freakishly tall, or has some other physical advantage. He’s 6′ 3″. A point guard with skills. A baller.

And like Harry when he found his wizarding skills, Lin has emerged from the shadows into the spotlight. Anne Rice and F. Scott Fitzgerald says there are really one two themes in storytelling: reinvention and redemption. Lin’s story is one of reinvention: from bench warmer to the star of New York basketball.

And yes, we all love that storyline. Deep down, each one of us wants to be reinvented. Each one of us wants to be something more. And for Asian Americans, that yearning goes very, very deep.

But he also carries his faith well. He’s a believer. An InterVarsity alum from the ministry department I currently lead.

And his character seems to shine through. Just plays. Loves to serve his teammates. He’s the kind of kid that’s inspiring, because he’s not only an incredible athlete, but someone we can look up to. And though he talks openly about Jesus, he doesn’t seem to be such a dividing personality. It’s great that he has skills, but it’s even greater that his faith shines through with a healthy dose of humility.

So when everyone tells him he’s the shining star of New York, he might do a hand-slapping, page-turning, glasses-pocketing nerdy handshake, but he’ll end it by pointing up to heaven.

He’ll humbly give glory to God.

And since I don’t have a basketball team in my hometown anymore, I guess I’ll start rooting for the Knicks.