Jeremy Lin was a feel-good story during his career at Harvard. And as if being an Asian-American college basketball star out of the Ivy League wasn't intriguing enough, on Wednesday the Bay Area native signed a contract with the Golden State Warriors, his hometown NBA team.
Lin went undrafted, but after strong NBA summer league performances and after holding his own against top-pick John Wall, the 6-foot-3 guard is on the verge of becoming the first Harvard player to appear in an NBA game since Ed Smith played in 11 games during the 1953-54 season.
In an interview today with Warriors broadcaster Tim Roye, Lin spoke of how his memorable 30-point game against UConn gave him the confidence it took to make it to the NBA.
"Just to realize I can play at this level and I can hang with some of these guys they're projecting to be in the first round, second round.
"Coach [Jim] Calhoun had some really nice words for me after the game, and I was blown away by that. When I read that, I was in shock for a while. I couldn’t believe he said some of the things he said.
"Obviously, coach [Tommy] Amaker and coach [Kenny] Blakeney, they believed in me for a very long time. They’ve been saying those things for a while."
The story gets even better for Lin. Being underappreciated and not getting drafted in June actually helped create a market for him. A fact that wasn't lost on former Cornell player and Ivy League foe Jon Jaques.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, that meant getting more than half of his first-year salary guaranteed when some second-round picks aren't guaranteed anything.
So when Lin suits up during the exhibition season in front of a Bay Area crowd -- as he did earlier this year against Santa Clara -- and soaks in the cheers, remember the long odds it takes college basketball players to reach that level.
Every once in awhile, someone with even longer odds gets there and makes a believer out of you all over again.
"I feel like an Asian from Harvard… if you think about that, you're not going to think, 'Oh, a player in the NBA.' I understand that. That's just the way it is," Lin told reporters.
"There haven't been that many Asian-Americans. There haven't been that many Ivy Leaguers. So… I understand that. But I'm hoping I'm breaking the stereotypes."