Lin makes pro debut on Asian Heritage Night


Jeremy Lin answers a question from Bob Fitzgerald. Photos by Calvin Wong

OAKLAND — Rarely in the NBA do the final minutes of an early season blowout feel so consequential, but judging from the roar of the crowd in Oracle Arena Oct. 29, the Warriors could have been down to the wire in a playoff game. Why were Golden State fans unleashing pandemonium when their team held an insurmountable 20-point edge over the hapless Los Angeles Clippers? To celebrate the professional debut of point guard Jeremy Lin.

The 22-year-old Palo Alto native brought spectators to their feet when he rose from the bench and checked in with 2:32 remaining. “I went from completely dry to completely soaked with sweat in about a split second after I heard the ovation,” Lin told fans later that night. “I just had so much adrenaline going through me. I don’t really remember it that well — the whole thing was a blur.”

It began with star forward David Lee welcoming the rookie to the floor with a playful slap to the back of the head, and ended with Lin dribbling out the clock. In between, he lucked into winning a jump ball, nearly committed his first official turnover, and received a number of blatant and slightly awkward attempts by teammates to set him up for scoring situations. The other Warriors clearly understood what the crowd wanted to see.

After all, the game coincided with an Asian Heritage Night promotion, and many fans had turned out in eager anticipation of witnessing the first Asian American suit up for their squad since Filipino American Raymond Townsend donned a Golden State jersey from 1978-80. Lin, whose parents immigrated from Taiwan, asserted that “tonight, obviously was a special night for me, but I think it’s a special night for the whole Asian American community.”

phChinese lion dancing at halftime was one way the Warriors paid tribute to Asian heritage. Photos by Calvin Wong

He delivered these remarks in a post-game interview staged for hundreds of fans — many wearing blue Asian Heritage Night promotional T-shirts — who had filled in several sections of the lower bowl while the rest of the stadium emptied. Seated along the baseline, Lin answered questions from Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald for more than 10 minutes, touching on a plethora of topics (see box below), such as his faith, his decision to sign with Golden State, his NBA role models, his car and — as one might expect — his Asian heritage.

“I’m very thankful to the Asian American community,” Lin noted, adding, “Your support has been amazing.”

Jeremy’s Take

On the Warriors’ team dynamic:

“The amount of chemistry and how much the guys love being around each other is pretty ridiculous. We have a bunch of clowns on our team, but a lot of the vets kind of adopted me as their little brother, so they’ve been giving me a lot of advice.”

On rookie hazing:

“I have to bring donuts in the morning, whenever [my teammates] want, I have to bring Wingstop, Jamba Juice, In-N-Out to the plane. We were in San Diego, I think a week ago, and Dorell Wright brought his Xbox but forgot his controller, so I had to go buy him one at the nearby mall.”

On his first “Welcome to the NBA” moment:

“I was guarding Steph [Curry, in practice], and he gave me a nice move and I almost fell over, and I was like, ‘Alright, welcome to the big leagues — it’s time to get serious now.’”

On his NBA role models:

“My idol growing up was Michael Jordan, but my game is nothing like his… I would say now, I love watching guys like Dwayne Wade. He has this controlled but reckless style at the same time. He’s very aggressive, and I feel like for me that’s kind of the same way as far as relentlessly attacking the basket. And then I watch Steve Nash and Chris Paul, the way they run pick and rolls. And obviously my own teammates.”

On his decision to sign with the Warriors:

“I had three offers, and the counter offers were higher, but I knew this is where I wanted to be. I wanted to come home. I spent a lot of time on the East Coast at Harvard, but it was too cold for me, so I knew I had to come back here.”

On the benefits of being Asian:

“I’m extremely proud to be Asian… the cultural values, taking care of your family and having that loyalty and that respect [all appeal to me]. Obviously the food, you can’t beat the food.”

On his work ethic:

“I think one way to glorify God is the way you work and the way you do your job. This is my job now. The Bible says whatever you do, do it with all your heart. I put in my best effort and my entire 110 percent into doing this. I know there’s a lot of people rooting for me, there’s a lot of support, and I want to make sure that I continue to work hard and not waste this opportunity. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, so for me to be in there [for practice] early, leaving late, that should be a given.

On his car:

“Everyone keeps making fun of me, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a Toyota Camry.”

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