Jeremy Lin is nothing if not courteous. We had arranged for him to call me at 5 pm PST, but I missed his call when he rang about 30 minutes early. He left a polite voicemail, introducing himself as “This is Jeremy Lin, from the Golden State Warriors,” and apologizing for calling ahead of time. After listening to the voicemail (and sprinting up three flights of stairs to my apartment), I got a chance to play 15-minute catch-up with the newest Golden State Warrior.
Hi, Jeremy, how are you?
Good, and you?
I’m good. Sorry I sound all out of breath, but I just got home.
Oh it’s fine. Hey, I’m really sorry I called you early, but I have something going on at 5 and I wanted to make sure we got to talk.
That’s absolutely fine. We’ll just get started right away. So I did some research on you and saw that you are 6’3” which is majorly tall in the Asian world. I also saw that your family is originally from Taiwan. Have you had any funny/awkward cultural experiences growing up because of your height/sport/education?
Well, a lot of people used to think that I was the older brother and my older brother was the younger because of my height. But you know, I was 5’3” when I went into high school, so most of the girls were taller than me. It was a pretty big difference when I came out of it four years later at 6’2”.
You went to Harvard and majored in economics. Did you have to turn down any job offers from companies to play for the NBA?
No. I didn’t apply to any jobs because I knew I wanted to play basketball. I didn’t even go through the interview process.
That’s a pretty bold move.
[Laughs] Yeah, I guess so. But I just knew that I wanted to play basketball for a living, so, that’s what I did.
How do your parents feel that you are an NBA player instead of, say, a doctor or lawyer?
They want to support me in whatever makes me happy, and basketball is my passion. I’d say they’re pretty happy, pretty proud of me and my brothers.
Where did you get your love of basketball from?
Well, my dad always loved it, so I kind of just grew up loving it. I can’t explain it. It feels like something God put in my heart. I’ve just always loved basketball.
As you head into training camp, is there anything that you do to prepare yourself for the rigors of the game?
Just the same thing I’ve been doing -- work hard, keep my body right, make sure I get enough rest at night.
Do you have any pre-game rituals, like wearing lucky socks or anything?
No, I don’t really have any superstitions like that. I do pray before every game though, and read the Bible.
Do you have any verses that you turn to?
Romans 5:3-5 are my favorite verses. It’s maybe not what you’d expect, I guess, because it’s about suffering and having the right perspective in down times. But it helps me put everything back in perspective, because, you know, everyone goes through down times. It gives me a sense of peace.
How do you like to wind down after a game or after practice?
Oh man! I just love, love going out and getting a nice huge meal. There’s nothing better than a really nice, big meal after a lot of hard work. I like going to a Chinese restaurant and getting great food, like lobster. Or go out and get a cheeseburger sub.
A cheeseburger sub?
Yeah, it’s like two cheeseburger patties on a foot-long sub with lettuce, tomatoes, and, you know, everything. I love getting them at Pinocchio’s at Harvard Square. It’s the best.
That sounds like a tasty heart attack. It’s a good thing you work out so much! So do you have any peculiar or weird living habits when you get home after a long day?
I think I’m pretty standard, with pretty normal habits. Just have the essentials. Oh, but I have to have fast Internet. I need a fast Internet connection so I can play video games. [Laughs]
Did you make any impulse buys after you signed your contract?
Um, I got a couple iPads for me and my brothers. Oh, and I sent my parents to Hawaii for a little bit. But besides that, no, not really.
Like Rich Cho, the General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers, you’re looked up to by a lot of people in Asian American community because of your accomplishments. Whom did you look up to when you were growing up and why?
Definitely my older brother. He’s always been a role model for me. He’s very mature and a very faithful Christian. I liked playing basketball with him, and we both loved watching Michael Jordan play together.
[At this point in the conversation, the call is dropped. I have a heart attack. He calls me right back.]
Oh my gosh! I am so sorry about that.
It’s no problem.
How are we doing on time?
I can squeeze in a few extra minutes. It’s not a big deal.
Great. Do you have any secret skills, talents, or interests that might surprise people?
Not a lot of people know that I’m really interested in nonprofit work. That’s something I’m passionate about, too. I’ve thought a lot about going into the ministry, which is another thing that might surprise people. Oh, and I don’t think people realize how much I eat.
So I’m about 5’1” and my entire sports career consists of about 2 weeks of track in high school where I discovered that I’m basically the un-athlete. Like, I don’t run very fast or in a straight line. I have zero hand-eye coordination. Knowing this, what would your strategy be if you and I played a game of one-on-one against each other?
[Laughs] If we played each other? I would, uh, I would probably give you some free points to start with at the beginning. Then I’d score a few points, even it out and make it close. But I’d let you win.
Really? You’d let me win?
Oh yeah, of course.
That’s what I like to hear. Okay, then. One last question. What are 5 words you’d use to describe yourself?
Well. I’d have to say Christian. Um. Chinese. Family. I really value family. Um. Fun-loving, because I’m all about having fun. Laid-back. Oh -- and I think this is more than five -- but you can also put in Warrior.