Spoelstra: Celebrate Lin for his play
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra makes no secret about the fact that
he’s enjoying the Jeremy Lin story.
An undrafted player from Harvard bounces around and auditions
for a handful of NBA clubs, even spends some time in the NBA
Development League, then finally gets a chance to play with the
Knicks. And on New York’s stage instantly becomes a star who’s
putting up monster numbers every night while seeming to carry one
of the league’s most storied franchises with ease.
”It’s a great story,” Spoelstra said. ”It really is.”
In Spoelstra’s mind, it’s a good enough story to stand on those
Nonetheless, heritage is a massive part of the Linsanity craze.
Lin – the son of Taiwanese parents – is not the NBA’s first
Asian-American player, but surely the first to generate this much
interest. Spoelstra’s mother is from the Philippines, making him
the league’s first Asian-American coach. He and Lin will be on
opposite ends of the court in Miami on Thursday night when the
NBA-leading Heat hosts the Knicks.
”It’s a great rags-to-riches story,” Spoelstra said. ”That’s
the bigger story. And hopefully years from now it’ll be about that,
not about the ethnicity.”
After helping New York reach .500 by beating Atlanta on
Wednesday, Lin is averaging 23.9 points and 9.2 assists in an
11-game stretch since joining the Knicks’ rotation. New York is 9-2
in those games, saving a season that was spiraling out of
Facing the Heat figures to be Lin’s biggest challenge yet this
season. Miami goes into Thursday as the NBA’s hottest team, winning
seven straight games – all by double figures – and tied with
Oklahoma City for the league’s best record at 26-7.
Basketball’s reach has long been global, which is evident every
time Spoelstra speaks with reporters. Whether it’s in the Heat
press room or on the practice floor, his media availabilities
almost always take place with him standing or seated before a drape
bearing with the Heat logo – and one for Tsingtao, a Chinese beer
company that entered into a multiyear agreement with the team a few
And Spoelstra’s following in the Philippines – a place he went
more than 30 years without seeing – is massive.
The Heat broadcast department streamed live pregame, halftime
and postgame shows on the team’s website during last season’s
playoffs, getting more clicks from the Philippines than any other
foreign country. He has made trips there in recent summers for
camps and clinics, typically being overwhelmed by the sizes of
crowds coming out for those events.
Still, no one ever coined the term Sposanity.
Linsanity, meanwhile, has fast become a part of the everyday
”I think it’s taken away from it, honestly,” Heat forward
LeBron James said, when asked if the attention on Lin’s heritage
overshadows his play. ”But at the end of the day, he’s winning
ball games. That’s ultimately what it comes down to. You average 25
and 9 and lose, it doesn’t mean much. You should realize how good
of a player he is and not get caught up in everything else. He’s a
really good player.”
Spoelstra remembers the first time he heard of Lin, and it
wasn’t when he started turning the Knicks around.
It was July 2010, about a week after James, Dwyane Wade and
Chris Bosh dominated the NBA news cycle by all deciding to play
together in Miami. Lin was with the Dallas Mavericks’ summer league
team in Las Vegas, simply trying to make an NBA roster.
”We were playing in the game after,” Spoelstra said. ”So I
showed up at the gym, and it was the auxiliary gym next door (to
where the Heat summer team was playing). And you could hear all the
noise. We heard John Wall was playing, so when everybody came into
our gym there was a buzz. We all assumed it was John Wall that
dominated that game. And then people were talking about a Lin kid
who dominated the fourth quarter. Nobody knew who he was.
”Everybody in the gym was talking about him.”
And now, that’s still true – just on a much bigger scale.
”The fact that he came from oblivion … it shows his
fortitude, his character, his resiliency,” Spoelstra said.
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