By Brian Cronin
On December 27, 2011, the New York Knicks claimed second-year point guard Jeremy Lin off waivers from the Houston Rockets. Including a short one game stint in the NBA Development League, Lin has been on the Knicks roster ever since, with his playing time steadily increasing lately, coming to a culmination with his game against the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night in the Garden. Lin put up 25 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists as he led the Knicks to a much-needed victory. Besides his breakout game (which saw the 23-year-old guard hit #2 on Twitter’s worldwide trending list), Lin is noteworthy for being the first Asian-American player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) since Robert Swift (who is a quarter-Japanese) in 2009. Besides Swift, there have been only four other Asian-American players in the history of the NBA - Raymond Townsend, Rex Walters, Corey Gaines and one other player, who amazingly enough was also a point guard for the Knicks - in 1947!
Wataru Misaka was born in Ogden, Utah in 1923 to Japanese immigrant parents. During the 1947 Draft, Ned Irish- then the President of Madison Square Garden- drafted Misaka. In a sign of how far things have changed in sports since then, Misaka discovered he had been drafted by reading it in the newspaper!! Irish flew out to Utah and signed Misaka to a guaranteed $3,000 contract. When the season began, Misaka was the first non-Caucasian to play in the league.
Recently, Misaka was asked about Lin by ESPN's Jared Zwerling, "I wish him luck. I don't know exactly what kind of player he is, except for what I've read about him. I sure hope that he can stick. New York could be a great place for him.”, He also added that he wished to tell Lin, "Ganbare," which is Japanese for "hang in there." Misaka added, "I'd like to just tell him, 'Hang in there, something good might happen.'"
“Hang in there, something good might happen” has been Lin’s mantra ever since he failed to be recruited by any Division 1 schools coming out of high school despite being first team All-State in California. Lin sent tapes of himself to all the Ivy League schools, Cal, Stanford and his dream pick of UCLA. The three PAC-10 schools each offered him an opportunity to make the team as a walk-on, but only Harvard and Brown offered him a guaranteed spot on their squads. So despite the fact that Harvard does not give out athletic scholarships, Lin chose to attend the Ivy League school. After having a stand-out career at Harvard, Lin once again suffered a set-back when he went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft. After excelling on the Dallas Mavericks’ mini-camp and Summer League squads, Lin was signed by the Golden State Warriors for the 2010-11 season. He was waived before the current season and signed by the Houston Rockets, who waived him after they needed a roster spot for newly acquired free agent center Samuel Dalembert.
The Knicks then picked him up and if his brilliant performance in leading the Knicks to victory against the Nets is any indication, it is no longer a question whether something good might happen to Lin – it already has.
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