It’s official: “Linsanity” has taken ahold of the NBA, causing Facebook and Twitter feeds worldwide to blow up. After posting three consecutive 20-point games for the New York Knicks, Jeremy Lin ’10 has received coverage from ESPN, The New York Times, and The Atlantic—and even has a rap song devoted to him.
But it wasn’t that long ago that Lin was suiting up in a Harvard men’s basketball uniform. As a senior during the 2009-10 season, Lin led the Crimson to a 21-8 finish while averaging 16.4 points per game.
With Lin now turning heads in the NBA, we caught up with some current Harvard men’s basketball players to hear their thoughts on Crimson grad’s recent success.
How excited are you to see Jeremy’s recent success in the NBA? Are you surprised by his success?
Oliver McNally: “We were 100 percent confident that he was a legitimate NBA backup. I don’t want to lie. I thought he could definitely play in the NBA, but I don’t think anybody saw this happening. It’s pretty unbelievable….I couldn’t be happier. He’s by far the hardest worker I’ve ever been around. All he cares about is his family, his friends, and basketball. No one is more deserving.”
Keith Wright: “I’m really excited for him; I’m not surprised about it at all. He’s an extremely hard worker. He just needed a chance.…I think he made the most of [that] chance on Saturday night [a 25-point, seven-assist, five-rebound, two-steal effort against the New Jersey Nets]. He’s continued to work on his game, and it’s just nice to see his hard work pan out.”
Kyle Casey: “It’s really exciting, especially since I’ve seen how much work he’s put in just from playing with him for a year and watching him grow and develop as a player. It’s really thrilling and exciting for the Harvard community and for myself. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. I’m just happy he got a legitimate chance. I’ve always been a Jeremy Lin fan and believer.”
Laurent Rivard: “He got some good minutes with the Warriors, but it was tough over there with two superstars at the point guard position in Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. He just kept working hard and he never stopped working and his hard work paid off.”
Matt Brown: “Aw man, I’m very excited. Just knowing Jeremy, he’s an awesome, awesome guy. Extremely hard working. Everything he’s getting now, he deserves it. Knowing how hard he worked and the time he put into his craft, I’m not surprised at all. I’m more surprised at the timing of this opportunity with all the injuries on the Knicks, but with regards to his success, I’m not surprised at all.”
How closely do you follow Jeremy’s journey through the NBA? Have you spoken to Jeremy recently?
OM: “I’ve watched every minute of every game—I’ve figured out a way. And I speak to him after. I just text him, tell him I’m proud of him. He’ll text me later. After his first start he got over 300 texts.”
KW: “[Lin] is such a inspirational human being. We don’t talk every day or every week for that matter, but he called me after the Fordham game and just gave me some words of wisdom and advice… to remind me that I’m the former Ivy League player of the year, that I’m a really good player and I need to play with that confidence….Hearing those words from him really put me in a positive place.”
LR: “I talk to him not too often…but I’ve had interactions with him before and he’s emailed me in the past. I remember last semester [after] my first game, I had a really bad shooting game, he emailed me afterwards and he told me not to worry about.”
MB: “Basically everything he does, I pretty much hear about. He reminds us of what we have to do to stay focused and reminds us of the goals we set for ourselves. I remember he sent us an email last year before the Princeton game and offered us words of encouragement. ”
How has he improved since you played with him at Harvard? What kind of things has he worked on to transition to the pro game?
OM: “It’s kind of funny because he wasn’t always the greatest talker. He was a great leader by demonstration with how hard he worked, but he didn’t talk a lot. That’s one thing Coach always told him to work on. But if you watch games [now] he’s barking out orders and stuff like that. It just shows his confidence in his game. He’s taking control of the New York Knicks…and now he looks like he’s been leading NBA teams for years.”
KW: “I think he’s worked on his ball handling and court vision. Here he was more of an off-guard scorer—definitely a great facilitator, but one of the biggest knocks on him was that he wasn’t a point guard. He’s done a tremendous job working on his jumper, and I know he continues to work on it every day.”
KC: “He seems a lot more assertive at this stage in his game. He’s clearly been working a lot since he’s been at Harvard and has developed his game nicely.”
LR: “I think he really improved his shot, and that helps him in a lot of areas. It makes the defender have to guard him more closely, and it makes it easier for him to blow that his defender. He’s not a shooter like Ray Allen, but he’s good enough to make guys guard him close. His ball handling is really tight, and his decision making is great.”
How does it make you feel to see a Harvard graduate achieve success in the NBA? What kind of motivation or confidence does it provide to you with regards to your own NBA dreams and goals?
KW: “It’s just a testament to his hard work and his faith in God.…I think that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, if you believe, and if you stay positive. I think good things happen to good people. It really solidifies in my head that if he can do it, so can I.”
KC: “It’s refreshing. Just seeing someone make it from the Ivy League, and in particular from Harvard, is great. I played alongside him, and I’ve seen a lot of the work and things that he’s put into his game. Just seeing what it takes to really make the next level is a humbling experience. It’s something that you don’t really forget.…It’s a good thing for our program, and a good thing for our league.”
LR: “It’s really great. We’re all happy for him. He’s starting now for a good NBA team. I think it makes us realize that hard work really pays off. Coach talks about him, probably weekly, telling us how hard he worked everyday. It makes us realize that we can accomplish our dreams if we really work at it.…It makes us realize that it’s really possible [to get to the NBA].”