On a small, new basketball court outside the unfinished Mitchell Park Library, Lin had two minutes to score against the basket's lone defender. Doing so, city officials had decided, would "initiate" the court, to be played on for many years to come.
His first shot, a fade away over the head of steadfast defender Greg Scharff — who wore dress pants and a button-up shirt with rolled-up sleeves — fell far short of the basket. JLS Middle School students who were watching sighed, disappointed.
"C'mon, Jeremy — shake and bake!" one shouted.
With some fancy footwork and dribbling, Lin juked Scharff's jerky movements before shooting again, earning "ooohs" and "ahs" from the crowd. But this time the ball bounced off the rim.
For his third shot, Lin planted, tossed the ball in clean arc and swooshed it to the applause of children, city staff and parents at the event.
Lin, a Palo Alto High graduate who became an international sensation after a break-out season with the New York Knicks in 2012, attended the event to christen the one-hoop basketball court outside the library.
Assistant Public Works Director Phil Bobel said the court is an important part of the complex, which is due to open at the beginning of next year.
"Most of (the library) is for sitting still and doing still things," he said. "It's one of the few parts where kids can use their muscles and not just their minds."
The beleaguered Mitchell Park Library construction project has been beset by repeated setbacks and cost increases since construction began three years ago. When completed it will consist of a 41,000-square-foot library and a 15,000 square-foot, two-building community center.
Lin, a former JLS and Palo Alto High School student, spent the rest of his time Monday making passes to the kids, answering questions (his favorite team out of those he's played for — The Warriors, Knicks and Rockets — is the team he plays for now, the Rockets, one child found out), and putting his signature on everything from kids' basketballs, pictures, scraps of paper and even the back of one particularly ardent fan's grubby "Linsanity" T-shirt.
As Lin left, Scharff intercepted him to shake his hand.
"Thanks so much for coming out," Scharff said.
"Thanks," Lin said. "Nice defense."