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All about Lin

Sports | An unprecedented rise to NBA success has people talking sports, race, and faith

Issue: "2012 Cities Issue," March 10, 2012

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin is the talk of the nation. And the more he tries to deflect attention away from himself, the more attention he gets. Lin's rapid rise to stardom has provoked conversation on many fronts: How did so many scouts overlook him? What does his success mean to Asian-Americans and the future of NBA global expansion? How should an athlete express Christian faith in the public eye?

Here's a look at how Lin and others are wrestling with such questions:

Lin on Lin:

"My identity is in Christ and not in basketball. ... I love playing basketball, and it's my job. But at the same time, I still recognize I'm a sinner and that's not going to change regardless of how well I play on the court."

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"I'm not working hard and practicing day in and day out so that I can please other people. My audience is God. ... The right way to play is not for others and not for myself, but for God. I still don't fully understand what that means; I struggle with these things every game, every day. I'm still learning to be selfless and submit myself to God and give up my game to Him."

"My calling and my purpose on this earth is to glorify God in what I do, and right now that calling is to play basketball. For me to remember I play for an audience of one, for God, that's liberating for me."

"Christianity teaches you what you're playing for and how to love other people. But, at the same time, when we play, we're playing to win. There's no question about that. We have the same resolve other people have. We may have a different motivation, but that doesn't mean that we're soft or that we can't be tough."

"Praying before, during and after (every game), that's a have to for me, because God helps me with everything throughout the day. There are so many different examples of where I need God's grace."

Others on Lin:

"It's crazy! I'm watching Linsanity hoping every shot goes in. Hope I never grow up." - Steve Nash, NBA all-star to whom many compare Lin

"Sports history is littered with odd quotations from people who try to reconcile their love of sport with their religious creed-and fail. Jeremy Lin has wrestled with this tension quite openly." - David Brooks, New York Times columnist

"Players don't usually come out of nowhere. If you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning, but no one ever noticed." - Kobe Bryant, the most decorated NBA player of the past decade

"I really like him. I respect him a whole lot. I've had the pleasure to really get to know him over the past few weeks, and what a great guy he is. How he handles and how he carries himself, I think is a great role model, and I'm proud of it." - Tim Tebow, whose sudden burst in popularity last fall provoked similar attention to faith and sport

"I think once you get past all of these interesting variables of race, it is the quintessential underdog story." - Jason Gay, Wall Street Journal columnist

"Lin himself seems insufferable especially with his playing for Jesus stuff reminding everyone of Tim Tebow, the most sanctimonious athlete alive. An athlete's religious beliefs are his own business, but when Lin decided to spray them all over the media I draw the line." - Sean O'Shea, sports blogger

"The intensity and suddenness of Lin and Tebow's acceptance has led to a flotilla of half-baked ideas about sports and religion and ill-conceived, even insulting notions about race and ethnicity. ... The crux of the Lin phenomenon is that as an Asian-American in the NBA, he is different. So difference is a criterion for elevation." - William C. Rhoden, New York Times columnist


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