By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Jeremy Lin headed to Oakland today to fulfill his dream of becoming an NBA player. This was just another step in the journey that took him from Palo Alto High to Harvard and to the Golden State Warriors, with whom Lin signed a two-year contract on Wednesday.
"I don't think I've ever been a part of something like this before," said Lin, 21, a Palo Alto High graduate. "This is unbelievable. Words can't really express my feelings right now and how happy I am and how grateful I am. This is crazy."
Lin received a phone call on Tuesday night from his agent, Roger Montgomery, confirming the deal and ending recent speculation where he might be headed. Reportedly, Lin also received offers from the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
"He's very excited," said Peter Diepenbrock, who coached Lin and the 2005-06 Paly basketball team to the CIF Division II state championship. "It's just overwhelming."
Should he make the Warriors' roster, Lin will be the first Palo Alto High athlete to play in the NBA since Jim Loscutoff Jr., who won seven championship rings alongside Bill Russell with the Boston Celtics from 1956-64. Loscutoff Jr. graduated from Paly in 1948.
Lin also will be the only Asian-American in the NBA should he stick with Golden State, and the first Harvard player to make the grade since Ed Smith in 1953.
"I understand there are not many Asians in the NBA and there are not many Ivy Leaguers in the NBA," Lin said. "Maybe I can help break the stereotypes."
Lin became the first Ivy League player to record 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. He finished his college career as Harvard's all-time leader in games played (115) and fifth in points with 1,483 points.
"I'm a play-maker," he said when asked to describe his game. "I'm always attacjing the rim. I'm a somewhat reckless player. I try to be everywhere at once."
Diepenbrock and Lin's family accompanied Jeremy to the Warriors' training facility in downtown Oakland, where Lin signed a two-year deal.
According to Diepenbrock, the first year is guaranteed for $350,000 (other reports said $250,000) with the Warriors holding the option for the second year.
Diepenbrock said the next-best deal for a free-agent point guard is $10,000.
Diepenbrock said that Lin had to turn off his cell phone after being deluged by well-wishers on Tuesday night.
Prior to the Warriors' offer surfacing, the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks had showed interest in signing Lin.
As of Tuesday morning, Lin had no idea where he was headed. He was just waiting for a phone call from his agent.
"I just want to be told when it's final," Lin said Tuesday morning, after a camera crew from CBS had stopped by to film him for a second straight day. "I don't know what the contracts are. I prefer it that way. I really don't want to go through the emotional roller coaster . . . I don't want to get my hopes up."
Right now, Lin is enjoying being back home in Palo Alto with his family, including brothers Joseph and Josh, and friends, and working at Diepenbrock's basketball camp.
"My goal right now is just to enjoy my time off, get my body rested," Lin said. "I've been on a three-month job interview. I just want to spend time with my family and friends. I'm been traveling and living out of a duffel bag."
On Tuesday, Lin spent time watching young basketball campers run through drills, play one-on-one and just have some plain old fun. It was a nice homecoming for Lin, who led Paly to the CIF Division II state championship in 2005-06. Another camp coach is Kheaton Scott, who played with Lin on the title-winning team. Other coaches include former Paly players like Brandon Williams and Dave Persyko.
"I actually asked Diepenbrock if I could work this camp," Lin said. "I've got my former Paly teammates and friends here. I'm as close to Diepenbrock as anyone. He's always supported me and came down to Las Vegas to see me. So, this isn't work for me. It just shows my relationship to him and my teammates."
It was so important for Lin to be at Diepenbrock's camp that Lin and his parents, Gie-ming and Shirley, drove all night from Las Vegas after a game on Sunday so Lin could be at camp Monday at 8 a.m.
While in Las Vegas, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Lin turned quite a few heads while playing in the NBA summer league. He played in five games, averaging 19 minutes and 9.8 points. He shot .545 from the field.
His best outing came last Thursday against the Washington Wizards and the NBA's No. 1 overall draft pick, John Wall.
Lin scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting in just 28 minutes while Wall was 4-of-19 in 33 minutes while scoring 21 points. Many of those who filled the gym on the campus of Nevada-Las Vegas probably felt Lin outplayed the highly touted Wall. That was evident on the video that made its way to YouTube. (it can be seen it at www.pasportsonline.com)
Lin came away from the summer league with nothing but positives.
"For me, it meant I can play at this level; I can play in the NBA," Lin said. "There are a lot of critics out there, but I think I showed people what I could do. My confidence did grow but, going in, it wasn't a question that I couldn't play with these guys . . . I'm just happy the Mavs gave me the opportunity."
Lin evidently had a lot to prove after graduating from Paly in 2006, despite being named first-team All-State and the Northern California Division II Player of the Year -- finishing his senior year with impressive averages of 15.1 points, 7.1 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 5.0 steals.
Lin received no scholarship offers from Division I schools and only Harvard and Brown showed any real interest. Lin chose Harvard and went on to have a sensational four-year career that saw him average 16.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.1 blocks his senior year while being named captain and earning a unanimous spot on the All-Ivy League first team.
Lin graduated in May with a degree in economics.
Despite what he accomplished at Harvard, including being a finalist for both the John R. Wooden Award (for best Division I player in the country) as well as the Bob Cousy Award (for best D-I point guard in the nation), Lin was not selected in the recent NBA Draft, which he watched with Diepenbrock. The stigma of Lin being an Asian-American, a rarity in the NBA, and from Harvard was too much for teams to see past.
"As far as the NBA Draft goes, I thought I was pretty much borderline," Lin said.
No sooner did the draft conclude, however, Lin received a phone call from Donnie Nelson, president of basketball operations for the Mavericks. Nelson offered Lin a spot on the summer league team and Lin made the most of the opportunity with his aggressive drives, tough defense, court saavy and leadership.
"He did really well," Diepenbrock said of Lin. "He impressed a lot of people."
Lin quickly became a crowd favorite in Las Vegas and his reputation as someone who could play at the NBA level was reflected on internet sites.
One comment posted at www.jeremylin.net said:
"I really hope he comes to Dallas, but if not, he's definitely earned my respect wherever he ends up. I'm convinced this kid is going to be a star one day, and there will be a lot of humble pie to go around for everyone that has ever doubted him along the way."
"This is crazy, everything that is going on," Lin said. "I never expected this. It's been a really fun ride."
While Lin is taking it easy for awhile, the NBA ride is far from over.
"The real goal is to get on a roster," Lin said.
The Warriors this week traded away point guard C.J. Watson to the Chicago Bulls, which seemingly opened a roster spot for Lin. Second-year player Stephen Curry is the incumbent point guard and joins Monta Ellis and newly acquired Charlie Bell in the backcourt.
Jeremy Lin is now part of that group. He has worked hard all his life to get to this point and has been given another opportunity to prove himself. And, has been the case throughout his career, he hasn't missed yet.