By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
The ink had hardly dried from Jeremy Lin's signature on a Golden State Warriors' contract and the reaction was swift, positive and overwhelming. With one smooth stroke of the pen the Warriors not only ended Lin's draft-day disappointment but engaged a large segment of the Bay Area population.
Lin, the Palo Alto High grad who led the Vikings to a state basketball championship in 2006, was formally introduced as the newest Warrior on Wednesday in a decidedly informal setting at the team's training facility in downtown Oakland.
"I thought I would be a borderline draft guy," Lin said. "It was obviously a disappointing night for me. The last three months have been very anxious for me. It was the first time in forever that I didn't know where I was going to go."
That meant even more hard work, a little bit of luck and the willingness of an NBA executive to give him another chance.
Donnie Nelson, a former assistant coach with the Warriors in the 1990s under his father, called Lin before the NBA draft and offered him the opportunity to play in the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas. He was originally scheduled to play in the San Francisco Pro-Am League, which hosts games at Kezar Pavilion.
The Mavericks' president of basketball operations, the only person from the NBA to contact Lin, invited him to Dallas to train, and generally gave him every opportunity.
"Donn Nelson took care of me," Lin said. "He invited me to July 4th festivities, brought me to Dallas for a 10-day training camp and went out of his way. I will call him immediately after this to thank him. He means a lot to me."
That's because Lin impressed a lot of people with his play in the short summer session.
"That's when my stock really rose," Lin said. "The biggest thing for me was to play against the best players entering the NBA."
Lin acknowledged that the Mavericks' televised game against the Wizards and the NBA's No. 1 overall draft pick John Wall was instrumental in getting an NBA offer. The YouTube video of the game didn't hurt Lin, either. He scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting in just 28 minutes while Wall scored 21 points on 4-of-19 shooting in 33 minutes.
Lin has overcome several obstacles and preconceived notions to reach this level. After graduating from Palo Alto, only Pac-10 schools, Harvard and Brown showed any interest.
"The Pac-10 schools wanted me to walk-on," Lin said. "I didn't want to walk on and then not make a team so I had to choose between Harvard and Brown."
Anyone who knows Lin knows his drive for excellence. He's never really given much thought to anything outside of his control. His focus remained on becoming the best possible basketball player.
Lin acknowledged his former Palo Alto coach Peter Diepenbrock and AAU coach Jim Sutter "as the biggest influences on my career."
Along with his family -- father Gie-ming, mother Shirley and brothers Josh and Joseph -- Lin also shared Wednesday's moment with the two coaches.
"He was always the best player on any team he played for," said Diepenbrock, a point guard in his playing days at Burlingame High and Menlo College. "He made the varsity as a freshman and just kept getting bigger, stronger and better. He has a different body now than what he had in high school. He turned that small body into a strength as a big point guard."
He became the fourth Asian-American player signed by the NBA since 1947. In an area with a large Asian population, Lin becomes an instant celebrity.
"I consider myself a basketball player more than Asian-American," he said. "I'm ready to play at this level and I appreciate the support of the Asian community. This is a dream come true. I always wanted to be in the NBA and now I get to do it with the Warriors, the team I grew up watching."
The 21-year-old Lin averaged 16.4 points, 4.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game as a senior at Harvard. The season was highlighted by a 30-point, nine-rebound performance against Connecticut, one of two Crimson games televised.
Lin's effort against the Huskies, and his ability to draw large crowds to Bay Area venues such as Santa Clara and Stanford, attracted interest and placed value on his skills.
The Ivy League doesn't generate much attention from the national media in general, and Harvard has hardly been a powerhouse. The Crimson (a school record 21 wins) completed one of their most successful seasons this year, finishing second to Cornell in conference play. Cornell reached last season's Sweet 16. Lin averaged 21.5 points against the Big Red in two games.
Harvard played in its first postseason tournament in 64 years, losing to Appalachian State in the first round of the collegeinsider.com tournament.
Lin moved into the Harvard starting lineup as a sophomore, the year Tommy Amaker took over as head coach. Amaker, a former assistant at Duke, also knows point guards. He was one with the Blue Devils.
Amaker also began scheduling tougher opponents in an effort to raise Harvard's profile. That meant Lin could be seen against a perennial favorite like Connecticut.
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.
Now he has the chance to live a dream.
"They want me to come in and compete," Lin said of the Warriors. "They have a need at the guard position and that speaks volumes to me. My opinion is I'm ready to go. I'm ready to play at this level. It's up to me how I develop. I know I have to develop a consistent jump shot out to the NBA 3-point line. All I wanted was the chance."
What They Are Saying About Jeremy Lin
"He's easily one of the nation's best-kept secrets. Perhaps no more." -- ESPN commentator Andy Katz
"He's a terrific basketball player. What I like about him is he's athletic, more than you think so. He controls his temperament to a really nice tempo. He knows how to play. I really love his composure." -- Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun
"Lin can play anywhere, in any league." -- ESPN commentator Jay Bilas
"For some folks who haven't seen him play, you're probably wowed by some of the things he can do. We are." -- Harvard coach Tommy Amaker
"Jeremy Lin is probably one of the best players in the country you don't know about." -- ESPN's Rece Davis
"He's a joy to watch. He's smooth, smart, unselfish, sees the floor like no one else on it sees." -- columnist Len Megliola
"He boasts an all-around repertoire rarely on display." -- ESPN columnist Dana O'Neil
"Jeremy Lin reminds me of Santa Clara's Steve Nash circa 1996. Hair cut, deceptive athlete." -- ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla
"He's plenty athletic. Lin explodes at the hoop and can finish above the rim, and he has built his body into a strong physical specimen that can withstand contact." -- ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb
"Boy, he had a nice summer league. He was pretty good most of the time." -- Golden State Warriors' GM Larry Riley
"Jeremy's game is not about the parts. It's about the will he exerts." -- Former Paly coach Peter Diepenbrock
"I think he's going to shore up our backcourt — that's for sure. I also think the signing is going to be great for the Bay Area market. I think he is going to be a lightning rod… We have a very large fan contingent that will be excited to have Jeremy on our team." -- Warriors' president Robert Rowell
"I think it's huge. There is excitement.He's going to have a big following no matter what because of the big Asian contingent in the Bay Area. Because he's an Asian American, there's a lot of marketing opportunities." -- JeremyLin.net creator Kenn Kuwahara
"(I'm) Getting myself a Lin jersey." -- Anonymous post on JeremyLin.net