Recently I’ve been tracking closely the activities and performance of Jeremy Lin in the NBA preseason games. As anyone who’s paid some decent attention to the league should know, how rare this Harvard Crimson and Asian American product is. He really doesn’t have the common shortages of being an Asian (i.e. less athletic, undersized), and does compose what people call “basketball IQ” that may draw the slightest link to his ethnic. Yet, whichever Harvard basketball product wouldn’t have that?
Anyway, none of those qualities I just mentioned has anything to do with my reminiscence. It’s a thread I saw on a basketball forum that sort of conjures up all the pieces: “The Most Fascinating Battle for 3rd Point Guard in the NBA: Jeremy Lin and Aaron Miles.” The 3rd pg? It’s almost as rarely used as the 3rd string QB on the football pitch. Yet still, to Jeremy and Aaron, it’s about making it to the league, and that’s HUGE.
It reminds me of my high school days in Brentwood when I had to compete with Hayes (never knew his last name) head to head to for the back-up forward. In the eyes of Coach Johnson, I was never a wing, let alone a guard. I had the length but also had one of the thinnest frame. Hayes had the body, the attitude, but maybe slightly less experienced and agile. I can still remember clearly how we always ended up posting up each other down-low, trying to score that basketball to make our fate. I was a faster sprinter down the line, but I didn’t really have that “make a splash” attitude to gather attention on my plays. In the end if we look back, we were both solid role players; we just weren’t the highlight materials. The only highlight we could garner was probably the sweats and the bruises on our chests and arms.
Back to Jeremy and Aaron. Both of them are probably too short for SG; Jeremy is 6-2, Aaron is 6-1. Yet both of them are playing with an intensity that expand the possibility to a combo guard off the bench. Jeremy is a bit more turnover prone, but his basketball IQ has led him to quite a few rebounds and trips to the foul line. Aaron on the other hand, is more aggressive with the ball, driving and shooting, the more attacking type. They are both getting limited playing time; however, I do see the preference of Kevin Smart on Miles. Lin is really struggling with the PT, and that in a way is turning into a negative loop on him, where he really struggled on short outings (<5 min). I totally understand.
A very positive note, and the one that I’d put my money on, is Lin’s attitude to learn. He is constantly referred to as the hardest working player on the team. He has always been the first to arrive and the last one to leave the court, plus extra time spent in the video room. That’s gonna make a lot of positives, in a long run, to his game. Like one of the comments left on Jeremy Lin #7, that he’ll either be a very smart player, or if he never gets to leave the bench as he deserves, he’ll become an excellent coach. The NBA stats several years ago has added a new category that we didn’t have back when I was following the games religiously: the +/- score differential. Being a chemistry type of low-profile player Lin and myself are, that stat could mean a lot and really reflect what our rare qualities are.
In my story, I ended up really becoming the chemistry player that sort of catalyzed the team with the box-outs, the yelling, that extra pass, the hard-D, and the occasional mid-jumpers. My stats were extremely low profile at 2pt 2 rb, and maybe 1 dime and .5 bk. The message is that I had adopted the situation and strove on my role, although I knew (and like Kevin has always told me) I could had flourished a notch more being on the wing. Even if Lin isn’t Smart’s type of player, I’m pretty sure he’ll find his role and strive on it. Lin is definitely just one of the millions that suffers from coach preference in the world of basketball and certainly won’t be the last. The future for this hardworking man is still steadfast and bright. The pity really is on Smart, for his lack of belief/understanding on how fast and well a player like Lin can/will progress with each and every given opportunity. Smart is just not being Smart, but Lin will eventually be Lin.