One of my fondest childhood memories is of watching “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and being awed by the idea that life held possibilities beyond my comprehension. The world had never seemed bigger than that moment when the Ark of the Covenant opened and the power of the heavens was unleashed.
Somewhere along the path from wide-eyed kid to lazy college senior, I lost that sense of wonder — most of us do. It’s hard to maintain childlike curiosity about a world that seems more predictable and mundane as we understand it further.
What seems like a lifetime later, “Raiders” still entertains, but that wondrous thrill is gone, replaced by sober appreciation.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying I’m one jaded son of a gun. There are few phenomena in this life that truly surprise me, and those that do, almost always turn out to have pedestrian
As New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin has taken the world by storm with his basketball heroics, I’ve sat in the back row with my arms crossed, waiting for the house of cards to collapse. It’s not that I don’t believe in underdogs; I believe more in logic, and logic screams this is as fluky as it gets.
Basketball scouts at both the collegiate and professional level are paid handsomely to find the best prospects to help their organizations succeed. They may underrate players, but they never miss them entirely.
For the Lin story to be real, for this overlooked player to turn out to be a legitimate basketball star, hundreds of Division 1 colleges and 29 NBA teams completely whiffed on their most important job.
That Lin even wears an NBA uniform is something of an upset. A talented but lightly recruited Bay Area native, Lin spurned walk-on offers from schools like UCLA to play for Harvard — not exactly a basketball powerhouse.
He became an Ivy League star and remained on the NBA periphery until signing a contract with his hometown Golden State Warriors. Reality set in quickly. Undrafted Harvard graduates don’t become stars in the world’s most competitive professional basketball league. His first two teams cut him, generally not a sign that a player is destined for greatness.
Then there’s the question of race. The A-word is part of his story, despite ESPN bending over backward to insist it’s not. The surprise isn’t that an Asian-American is successful at the highest level of his craft. My favorite professor is a brilliant Taiwanese woman, and Asian doctors, lawyers and business professionals dot the landscape of every nation.
There is virtually no precedent for Asian-American basketball players at the pro level, however. Only three have ever played in the NBA before Lin, and one of those, 5-foot-7-inch Wat Misaka, played only a few games in the 1940s. Lin succeeding as an NBA star wouldn’t just be flying in the face of history — he would be rewriting it.