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Jeremy Lin thinks being Asian-American hurt college basketball scholarship offers

Apr 7, 2013, 9:59 PM EDT

Jeremy Lin, James Harden AP

Jeremy Lin didn’t play college basketball on a scholarship — Harvard doesn’t offer athletic scholarships.

Lin was a noted high school player — he led Palo Alto High School to the California state championship and won a number of state awards. But Stanford in his own back yard didn’t offer him a scholarship, nor did UCLA, Oregon or any other Pac-12 school. Lin had the grades, SATs and resume to get into Harvard, so he went East.

We now know Lin as the guy who was good enough at Harvard to get a shot at NBA Summer League, where he turned heads and got some shots in the NBA until the perfect storm came together and “Linsanity” hit New York.

But why was that talent not recognized out of high school. Lin was frank in discussing that with Charlie Rose on 60 minutes that aired Sunday night.

“Well, I think the obvious thing in my mind is that I was Asian-American, which, you know, is a whole different issue but … I think that was a barrier. I mean … it’s a stereotype.”

Did that also play into him not getting drafted? I don’t think so (we’ll get to that) but the marketing master David Stern said yes on 60 Minutes (via

“”I think in the true sense the answer to that is yes,” Stern said. “In terms of looking at somebody … I don’t know whether he was discriminated against because he was at Harvard (he said with a laugh) or because he was Asian.”

Lin averaged 17 points a game shooting 51.9 percent his senior year at Harvard — but there were a lot of a holes in Lin’s game. You saw this even at Summer League as he tried to make a roster — he could get into the lane but didn’t finish well, he turned the ball over, he wasn’t great defensively and his physical skills were average for the NBA. You had to wonder how much he could really develop to overcome those weaknesses. Yet scouts can often focus too much on what a player can’t do and not enough on what they do well (I can be guilty of that, too) — Lin had an obvious feel for the game and his style of play excited fans.

Which is why he got a chance. Maybe there was some stereotyping, but I got the sense at the NBA level it was simply a case there were better draft gambles to take, guys with higher ceilings. Or so it seemed at the time — clearly he could overcome those deficiencies. Drafting in all sports is an inexact science. I’m not going to speculate on why he didn’t get a college scholarship, but my sense is recruiting, like drafting, is never perfect.

That said, Lin is changing perceptions. And that alone is great for basketball in general and the NBA particularly.

  1. ihavenonickname - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    Lin might be right… but being asian probably also got him his plush contract from houston aswell

  2. dalucks - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    It is another example of how college basketball coaches really do not know talent as they over evaluate players and overcoached every possession of every game.
    From top to bottom, basketball has too many idiots making decisions.

  3. mazblast - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Like our President, this Harvard grad (Are we to fall on the ground and prostrate ourselves at his feet for that?) falls back on the easy explanation that “it’s because of my race”. Perhaps college coaches saw the holes that were in Lin’s game, and which IMO still exist. Perhaps college recruiting is not the exact science the “experts” portray it to be, at least as practiced by the those anointed by the media as The Master Coaches.

    But no, rather than take the high road and say, “I had a way to go to be a professional hopeful”, Lin falls into playing the race card.

    • akmgiants - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      when has obama ever said race stopped him from being successful. as a white male, i find his speeches on race/difference to be quite unifying and patriotic. it’s the other said that comes up with slogans like “re-nigg 2012”

  4. marlene352000 - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    if lin was black and made these comments he would gwt skewered

  5. barbeaux - Apr 7, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    ^lol. Bitter much?

  6. money2long - Apr 7, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    u went to harvard..that’s a win
    u became an nba starter ..another win

  7. kinggw - Apr 7, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    I don’t think race had as much to do with it a Lin thinks. Lin isn’t a superior athlete, dead-eye shooter, shut down defender or phenomenal passer. He is amazingly average. He’s a pro and still can’t drive to his left. He starts for Houston but probably isn’t the best pg on his team.

    I don’t disagree that recruiters may not have been initially impressed with Lin, but if you can play they will find you. Lin was an average college player, who took full advantage of his opportunity with the Knicks and parlayed it into a new contract. Linsanity was a great story but we really need to stop acting like recruiters and scouts missed on the next superstar, they didn’t.

  8. lemfax - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    He is simply right.

    • gmsingh - Apr 8, 2013 at 4:14 PM

      Didn’t seem to complain about “Linsanity” which was just as race-based, though.

  9. daddyghi - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:36 AM

    yep! its race alright… there are a lot of filipino PGs that are faster, stronger and has better B-ball IQ than jeremy lin… but no US college has ever offered a scholarship… scouts still thinks that talents are still in their backyard… Basketball is an international game and the rest of the world already catched up in terms of skills! its now time for someone to do some knocking on these scouts head…

    • badintent - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      I have to agree, my wife is Phillipino and raves about the B-ball in the country.But she says they prefer to play in their own country, close family ties and a nice lifestyle.I have two phillpino neighbors that are 6’3″ but they don’t play ball. My kabanan that is 6’2″ and 220 destroyed the Phillipino league here. Mel from Hell he’s know as..

  10. db105 - Apr 8, 2013 at 4:09 AM

    Is basketball a sport or a show?

  11. spideysdog - Apr 8, 2013 at 5:28 AM


    you’re an idiot. the president has never used a race card. this is pro sports talk, not fox news blog. check your ip address before posting.

    as for Lin, I didn’t see his high school career to have any idea of whether he was worthy of scholarship offers or not. I will say this…. Scouts and coaches, on both the college and pro levels have a tendency to fall in love with physical attributes over mental and skill sets all too often.

    teams will draft a 7 foot big man with absolutely NO skills in the lottery STRICTLY on potential. the reality is, Lin broke the mould and hopefully opened some minds and eyes.

    • badintent - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:19 AM

      mazblast got his first pubic hair……………………in his nose.He got his first slam dunk……on an 8 foot rim. And yes ,his rabbi missed the foreskin on the the first slice, hit mazblast’s brains. So he can’t help himself, the mouth diarrea is out of control.

  12. bball1950 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    Lin has been an inspiration to not only Asian Americans but to rooters of the underdog. Here a player goes undrafted,, D-League pickup, cut from 2 teams, sleeping on a teammates couch, to leading the NY Knicks to a inspiring winning record in 2 short months. People from all races rooted for him. He has dealt with the low expectations/stereotypes unexpected well.

  13. thenew013 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Does he want an apology?

    Sorry for not noticing your one of the very few asian harvard alumn that is halfway decent at basketball.

    every scout

  14. fnc111 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    He’s basically claiming Stanford was racist . How did they not offer him a scholarship in their own backyard?

  15. fnc111 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I believe Trent Johnson would’ve been the coach for Stanford at the time and that says a lot. You saw the comments from black guys within the media or league last year. They hated seeing an Asian dude playing so well. Maybe Lin has a point. Johnson didn’t offer him because he was Asian.

  16. blue18hutthutt - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    It’s ironic that black people, of all people, should be sympathetic and supporting toward the success of another underdog minority player, but instead they are the champions of racist exclusion and bigotry

  17. tims1973 - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    There is a concrete list of evidence that Jeremy Lin was discriminated against in regards to college recruiting. It’s so obvious that it’s ridiculous.

    Palo Alto High School is where Jeremy Lin played and NONE of the other players on that team were considered prospects and when you search for the video of Palo Alto-Jeremy Lin, you can check out the California State Championship game vs Mater Dei High School.

    So, we’ve established that Jeremy Lin was the California State Player of the Year on the Palo Alto High School team, where Lin’s teammates were skinny scrubs who were feisty underdogs that no college wanted to recruit.

    The state championship game was against Mater Dei High School which boasted EIGHT, that’s “8” college D1 SCHOLSHIP athletes to major colleges, including a prep phenom player (Taylor King) who was supposed to be the next “Kobe” but burned out in college due to attitude issues and never made it to the NBA.

    So basically, Jeremy Lin was the best player on a weak, skinny team, vs the best California team and one of, if not the best prep team in the country overall.

    So, recap:

    1) Jeremy Lin led Palo Alto to the victory including a big 3-pointer and a key layup with time winding down. Jeremy Lin won the state championship with scrub teammates going up against a goliath team.
    2) Jeremy Lin won California Player of the Year
    3) Jeremy Lin was offered no scholarship.

    Clearly he was discriminated against and he should have been one of the most sought after players in the nation after what he accomplished for Palo Alto.

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