Hundreds of Asian Americans helped fill a packed Barclays Center Friday in Brooklyn, New York, to watch NBA point guard and Christian athlete Jeremy Lin and the Nets play their first home game of the current season. The American-born professional basketball player unexpectedly led a winning turnaround ironically with the New York Knicks in 2012, which generated a global following known as "Linsanity."
The sellout crowd of 17,732 in Brooklyn saw a solid performance from Lin, who scored 21 points, with nine rebounds and nine assists, to help the Nets defeat the Pacers 103-94.
Before the game, Nets' head coach Kenny Atkinson was asked by reporters how Lin has changed as a player and a person since he's known him. The two go back to Lin's days on the Knicks, when Atkinson was an assistant. "I see a different maturity about him, a different confidence," Atkinson said. "The good thing about Jeremy, he never seems overwhelmed by the moment. He has an air about him, a confidence about him. But I see a different guy - I see more of a leader."
"It's not just that he's Asian American," Dean Lin told NBC News. "It's really more that he doesn't give up and really stays focused on what he needs to do. I think it's good for the kids to see that you can basically be anything."
Two-dozen Taiwanese-American kids were chosen to appear on the court Friday night, along with the Nets and Pacers, as the National Anthem was sung. Some wore black-and-white Nets jerseys with the Harvard graduate's last name and the number 7; others held up posters and banners, including one that said "Brook-Lin."
Many of the participating children and their families said Lin definitely inspires young players to be better athletes. Others credit Lin for helping to break stereotypes that Asian Americans excel only in academics, not in sports, and for giving kids a chance they once might not have had.
As for Lin, he said he was hoping events wouldn't happen so fast as his first time in New York that he would end up being more scared than grateful. "I think that's because everything was changing around me so fast. But if I could go back, every night I would just take a little time and thank God. I would take a little bit of time, soak it in, slow down for a little and not try to keep up with the pace of what everybody else is saying and what the world is trying to say."
— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) October 29, 2016