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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Linsanity" (Timothy Dalrymple)

TITLE: Jeremy Lin: The Reason for the Linsanity
AUTHOR: Timothy, Dalrymple
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Center Street, 2012, (186 pages).

What's the reason for Jeremy Lin's rise from mediocrity to linsanity? This is the underlying question that laces the entire book. The overnight hero and unlikely star has not only become a basketball sensation, he has galvanized hope for many in a society that is currently economically depressed and spiritually hungry for hope. Jeremy Lin provides glimpses of hope that tell us that any ordinary person who works hard will always have a chance at stardom. Jeremy comes from an Asian culture staunch in educational pursuit and a work-hard attitude. Like any typical Asian American family, his parents put a huge emphasis on academic excellence, and sports often become a distant second or third priority. At the same time, it is hard for any Asian to break into the domain of the world of sports, usually dominated by non-Asian Americans. Despite these barriers, the way Jeremy rescues his team from the brink of defeat, to become a genuine force to contend with in the tough NBA league has made him a household name not just in sports-mad America, but in many Asian communities worldwide.

The author interviews Jeremy, and writes a captivating summary of the events that made Jeremy a star. Using the seven game winning streak by the New York Knicks to coincide with the significance of the number 7 in Hebrew culture, Dalrymple details the background and the ups and downs of the emotions from Game 1 to 7. Like a skilled storyteller, the author weaves in Jeremy's background stories in the midst of an exciting coverage of how Jeremy manages to outshoot, outwit, and outplay some of his toughest and most formidable basketball opponents. In Game 1 against the New Jersey Nets, Dalrymple highlights the role of perseverance in Jeremy's upbringing and character. In Game 2 against the Utah Jazz, the author points out a mysterious and miraculous way in which Jeremy was offered a chance to continue his magical play. As Jeremy celebrates his team's victory with lowly and down to earth humility, the media bursts out highly praising his virtues. The next Game 3 happens to be away against the Washington Wizards.  By then, Jeremy already has a sizeable following, especially among Asians. Dalrymple compares Jeremy's attitude with that of the famous Chinese General Li, whose passion for excellence took center stage. Not only is his team beginning to climb up the table, he is rising up in fame and popularity. It is Game 4 against the LA Lakers that cement his heroic status. It pits a rising superstar in Jeremy against the world famous Kobe Bryant. In a culture split between ethnic cultural expectations and somewhat tense inter-racial relations, coaches, supporters, even players are forced to look at the damage and the silliness of discrimination. As long as Jeremy is playing, the fans keep on coming. By the time Game 5 is played against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jeremy has become a household name. The underdog has become the hero. Winning five in a row makes Jeremy an automatic first team player. In a world of basketball, Asians are a force to be reckoned with. Game 6 against the Toronto Raptors has one of the most sensational endings. With only 2.2 seconds left to win the game, guess who threw the winning shot? Jeremy's faith in his game stems from his deep faith in God. Even many of the local Toronto fans (with a huge Asian population), scream in delight as they watch the Knicks win the game. Game 7 against the Sacramento Kings shows how Jeremy has played his point guard role to perfection.

My Thoughts

This book is inspiring and gives readers a background on how and why Jeremy Lin has become such a sensation. Not expected to perform, he outperformed all expectations. An unknown on the morning of February 12th, 2012, he became a superstar in a matter of days. Against all odds, Jeremy defines for many of us what "possibility" means. His faith shows Christian believers one version of what hope and trust in God looks like. Dalrymple makes this observation about something that makes Jeremy different. While stars like Kobe Bryant are expected to win, it is stories like Jeremy Lin's that connect better with the everyday man and woman in the street. Just like the story of David and Goliath. While Goliath is "awe-inspiring," David is "inspiring."

Personally, I am inspired by Jeremy Lin's never-say-die attitude to persevere on in a tough environment marked by competitiveness, brutal expectations, discrimination, and unequal status. At the same time, it is also humbling to see how a star like him can continue to maintain a low profile, choosing to honour others before self. Perseverance in one's faithfulness. Humility toward people. Faith in God. These three are the hallmarks of any star. Jeremy Lin has shown us the way. Let more of us be inspired to live not just for ourselves or for others, but for God.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Center Street Publishers, part of the Hachette Book Group of companies, without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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