In sports, everyone is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like Jeremy Lin, the undrafted Taiwanese-American Harvard guy who signed a two-year, partially guaranteed contract with the Warriors and immediately became the NBA's most popular 12th man.
Lin's a great story — his father, a 5-foot-6 immigrant, taught himself the game as an engineering doctoral student at Purdue by watching old videotape of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with whom he shared nothing more than a taste in eyewear — and I can't imagine a better scenario for Lin than playing in his native Bay Area for a yell-at-the-clouds crazy man who is sure to throw the guard some minutes during one of his habitual fits. Even if Lin spends 82 games watching the dance team, it's a safe bet you'll find his jersey everywhere from San Jose to El Cerrito, to say nothing of Taipei.
Most of the talk about Lin, to this point, has centered on his heritage (ESPN, in January: "In the Asian-American community, academics are king and immigrant parents are usually more concerned with a GPA than PPG") and his education (SI.com, in advance of a Harvard-Cornell game later that month: "[A] couple of teams whose GPAs are more important than their scoring average"). He is busting stereotypes left and right, people always say, unwittingly forcing on him a different kind of stereotype: the humble standard-bearer. Lin himself doesn't sound particularly keen on that role. And it's worth noting that a 6-foot-3 guy from the suburbs — one who tore through high school ball, won all manner of statewide player of the year honors, and did plenty of time on an elite AAU circuit — isn't exactly an anomaly in today's NBA. So instead, let's just point out that Lin can play a little. In May, John Hollinger rated him a late first-round/early second-round prospect with better potential than the guy the Warriors took with their sixth pick, Ekpe Udoh. And he traded fours with John Wall in a summer league game that made everyone sit up and pay attention:
Lin won't be a star, and until he gets a jump shot and a better left hand he probably won't figure prominently in the Warriors' rotation. But as a rookie, if he sticks with the team long enough, he will have the honor of hearing his name chanted unironically by thinning crowds at the end of blowouts. There's glory in that.