Sunday Mornings with Jeremy

Some might remember Jeremy Lin as the kid who led the Palo Alto varsity boys’ basketball team to a state title back in 2006. Or maybe they remember him as the man who scored an impressive 30 points against the 13th ranked UConn Huskies in 2009, slamming home two massive dunks on Harvard’s way to a tough 79-71 loss. Now, everyone currently knows Jeremy Lin as the NBA superstar who is leading the surging New York Knicks with his scoring and playmaking ability.Despite Jeremy Lin’s recent accolades and success in the NBA, I simply remember Jeremy Lin as the humble, relaxed, and fun Sunday morning pick-up basketball player.

About 4 years ago, I had spent the night at a friends house, and the following morning my friend and I, along with his dad, headed over to Paly to play some pick-up basketball with coach Peter Diepenbrock. When I arrived, I kept my head down since I didn’t know anyone and felt completely out of place.

There were about 15 guys shooting baskets and warming up, but I just sat on the floor tying my shoes, trying to avoid everyone. Eventually, I made my way over to the group of guys with my friend, and said hello to them. I quickly noticed that one of the players in the group was none other than the then Harvard basketball player Jeremy Lin.

The game finally began, and I found myself playing against Jeremy. I wasn’t even guarding him, in fact, I was doing just about everything possible to stay away from him. But about 15 or 20 minutes into the game, my man set a screen for Jeremy, and I was left guarding him at the top of the key.

Jeremy stepped back, knowing I was not much of a force and was going to have a difficult time stopping him. He took one hard dribble right, then cut across my face with an amazing crossover, gliding all the way to the hoop for an easy score.

The second Jeremy crossed over, I had fallen and hit the floor hard. It was one of those crossovers that you find on Friday’s not top plays for sportscenter since I had been embarrassed so badly. In a normal high school basketball game, I would have expected the player to showboat or laugh at me, but not Jeremy. Jeremy simply put his head down, and headed immediately back on defense, ready for the next play.

I could hear chuckles and whispering from some of the players around me, but I kept my eyes locked on Jeremy. Never once did he laugh or speak. He was ready for the next play, not worried about schooling some 8th grade kid.

I guess the moral of the story is that famous people are often not as “clean-cut” or as nice as they may seem on TV. Often, stars get caught up in the spotlight and forget how to be nice, respectable characters. But not Jeremy.

I had always thought of Jeremy Lin as the quiet, contained, and confident Paly and Harvard basketball star. But people with as much talent as Jeremy often lose sight of how to treat others around them. After playing against Jeremy, I’m happy to say that he was just the kind of player and person I expected him to be.