‘Linsanity’ Hits the Mission

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From Dolores Park to Jose Coronado Playground, Mission residents are talking about the New York Knicks’ new starting point guard, Bay Area native Jeremy Lin, who just a month ago was taking up bench space and living on his brother’s couch until he led the Knicks to successive wins, including their most recent 104-97 romp over the Dallas Mavericks.

“Jeremy Lin inspires me. The guy’s a stud!” said Eric, a Mission resident who was so taken by Lin’s story that he bought a basketball and started shooting hoops at Dolores Park.

Jeffrey Wart, a student at Archbishop Riordan High School, and Loretta Fassbender, a junior at Immaculate Conception Academy, were somewhat in disbelief that there is actually a player of Taiwanese or Chinese descent playing in the NBA. Lin is the first. In total, only four Asian-Americans have played in the NBA.

Carolyn Sideco, the athletic director at Immaculate Conception Academy for girls, saw Lin’s potential all along.

“Living in San Francisco, we’ve been exposed to him for a while, since he grew up locally,” said Sideco, who became aware of Lin when he played in Palo Alto, where he grew up. “And there are a lot of people in the Chinese-American community, in the San Francisco basketball community, that already are very familiar with him, so we’re actually not surprised that he’s hit the big time.”

Although the city’s basketball community may never have doubted Lin, that was not enough for him to get an athletic scholarship to go to college; it was not enough for him to get picked up by a team in the 2010 NBA draft; and it definitely was not enough to keep him from getting cut from two NBA teams before joining the Knicks. One fact in Lin’s history that’s hard to take: one of the teams that cut him was the Golden State Warriors.

“It’s a shame he got cut by the Warriors,” said Julio Guerrero, who was at Jose Coronado Playground teaching his daughter how to shoot a basketball. “I just think it’s just too bad they didn’t catch it, you know, see the talent. It happens to a lot of teams, too, it just happened to be the Warriors … who cut him and let him go.”

Sergio Barreno, who was taking shots at Dolores Park, agreed.

“It’s crazy because the Warriors … they let a couple people go and their success kinda came up,” he said. “There was Gilbert Arenas, Richardson, Weber. They had Vince Carter and he’s like the greatest player ever now. I don’t know, but it’s cool man, he’s doing his thing.”

Barreno believes that if there is anything to learn from Jeremy Lin’s story, it is to remain consistent in everything you do.

Mission residents also said they admired Lin’s humility and the way he represents his community.

“I think he’s a great West Coast representative, especially from a Chinese-American perspective,” said Sideco. “That’s what I hope for our girls here at ICA, that they will always represent their school well, themselves well, and still really enjoy their sport.”

Back at the Dolores Park courts, Brooke Ray, who declined to give her last name, added: “It gives inspiration to people who actually play by the rules instead of being superstars.”

For Brooke Ray, the lesson to be learned from Lin’s story is simple: “Everyone has something to show but some people just aren’t as forthcoming about it. Just give them a chance to shine.”

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