“JEREMY LIN: The Reason for the Linsanity,” Timothy Dalrymple, Center Street, Hachette Book Group, $14.99, 185 pages
With Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol defending him, New York guard Jeremy Lin pulled up and drained a 19-foot jump shot to give the Knicks a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, sending Madison Square Garden into a thunderous, delirious frenzy.
Even though Lin would go on to have 38 points and seven assists in the New York victory last February, there was no taunting laughter or tongue-wagging by Lin. The rookie only lowered his head and faced his opponent.
While athletic prowess, chiseled muscles and extraordinary height can help an athlete succeed, Lin was evidence that faith, humility and hard work are just as formidable.
That’s one of the main themes that author Timothy Dalrymple hopes readers take from his book, “Jeremy Lin: The Reason for the Linsanity,” published in May.
“More people can relate to Jeremy because he is not 7-feet tall or the strongest player on the court,” Dalrymple said. “His faith taught him a great deal about humility and putting others first. It takes humility to endure all the failures that one must endure as an athlete. This has been one of Jeremy’s secret weapons as he has grown and matured as a Christian and basketball player.”
Dalrymple, managing editor for the evangelical portal at patheos.com, first heard about Lin while finishing his doctorate at Harvard University. At the time, Lin was leading the Crimson to thrilling victories in the Ivy League.
Intrigued, Dalrymple had the foresight to request an interview with Lin in 2010. The two met in the basketball player’s dorm room and talked about how Lin’s upbringing and Christian faith have helped him develop his character and basketball skills.
“I was very impressed with his humility and clarity of thinking in regards to his faith and sports. I found him to be an interesting character, so I kept tabs on him,” Dalrymple said.
“I thought he had a great deal of potential merely based on his character. When it comes to success in sports, you can either be so transcendently talented that it doesn’t matter, or you need to have a strong sense of commitment, hard work and good habits, and he seemed to have those things, so I suspected that things would go well for him.”
So when Lin, a thin-framed point guard from Palo Alto, Calif., came off the bench to lead the New York Knicks on a seven-game winning streak and become the hottest story in sports last February, millions marveled, but Dalrymple was not surprised.
Unrecruited out of high school and undrafted out of college, Lin signed with his hometown Golden State Warriors and almost gave up on his NBA dream when things didn’t work out. Then he was cut by the Houston Rockets on the day before Christmas. Still he persevered. He was days away from being unloaded by the New York Knicks when his golden opportunity presented itself against the New Jersey Nets.
Lin came off the bench to score 25 points, dish out seven assists and pull down five rebounds to lead the Knicks to the first of seven straight wins. In the next game against Utah, Lin schooled the Jazz for 28 points and eight assists, and a winning streak was underway.
The cultural phenomenon that followed his sudden and unexpected success was labeled “Linsanity.” This past week, Lin again became one of the biggest stories in sports when the Knicks decided not to match a three-year, $25.1 million contact offer made by Houston, making Lin a member of the Rockets for the upcoming season.
Everything Lin endured shaped his character, and strength of character gave him hope, Dalrymple wrote. And if he was going down, he was going down fighting. “Sports has molded his character, and faith has molded the way in which he plays basketball,” Dalrymple said. “I think the way in which his faith cultivated humility within him is a very important part of enabling him to reach the success that he had.”
Because of his published interviews and widely read articles with Lin, Dalrymple was contacted and offered the opportunity to write a book with a deadline of one month. Working around the clock, Dalrymple finished the book within about three weeks.
The book is outlined into seven chapters, one for each game of the Knicks’ winning streak.
Within the chapters, Dalrymple chronicles Lin’s high school, college and early NBA career and how his Christian faith, family, education and cultural inheritance have contributed to his success.
The narrative also includes interviews with basketball experts on Lin’s future in the NBA, Asian-American leaders on the role of race in Lin’s rise to stardom, and Christian athletes and pastors on the relationship between faith and sports.
“It (the book) fell into place in a way that I think was really fantastic, that for me as a Christian, it felt providential. There was something of a miracle on how it came together in that short amount of time,” Dalrymple said. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised. It wove together very nicely.”
Is the book an authorized biography?
Not officially, Dalrymple says, but the author’s goal was to tell the story in a way that honors Lin, his family and his beliefs.
After Dalrymple agreed to write the book, he reached out to Lin for another interview, but increasing media scrutiny forced the family into lockdown mode, and the interview didn’t occur. Dalrymple sent Lin a copy of the book when it was published but hasn’t received any feedback.
“He tells me he will or is reading it,” Dalrymple said. “I haven’t heard his thoughts on the book yet.”
Dalrymple was an athlete of Christian faith. A top gymnastics prospect for the Olympic Games in 1996, Dalrymple broke his neck in a fall from the high bar. His personal experiences gave him additional insight and helped him tell Lin’s story. Dalrymple, who holds degrees from Stanford and Harvard, has conducted numerous interviews with other athletes and coaches and written extensively on the role of faith in sports.
“It’s a great book for young athletes of faith,” Dalrymple said.
“The most important point, I think, reflects on one of the themes of the Bible. The Bible is not a story of extraordinary people, it’s a story of ordinary people through who God accomplishes extraordinary things.”
"Jeremy Lin: The Reason for the Linsanity," is available on amazon.com.
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