NEW YORK -- NBA standout Jeremy Lin s failure to get a major college basketball scholarship or a roster spot through the NBA draft probably had to do with his Asian ethnicity, Lin and NBA Commissioner David Stern say.
The opinions come to light in a profile of the Houston Rockets player, whose spectacular performances off the bench for the New York Knicks last spring spurred the catchword Linsanity.
Charlie Rose reports Lin s story on 60 Minutes, Sunday, April 7 at 6 p.m. on KHOU 11.
Lin was chosen California s player of the year when he led his Palo Alto High School team to a state championship. Asked by Rose why he didn t get a scholarship to nearby UCLA or Stanford, Lin replies, Well, 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.
Acknowledging that his ethnicity had nothing to do with his athletic ability, Lin says it was more of a perception of Asian Americans. I mean...it s just a stereotype, he tells Rose. He believes that if he were a black or white player, he would have gotten a scholarship to his dream school, Stanford.
Lin, a brilliant student, went to Harvard instead, where no athletic scholarships are granted, and was a standout in that Division I program. But the six-foot-four-inch guard wasn t drafted by any of the NBA s 32 teams in 2011. Was race involved there, too?
I think in the true sense the answer to that is yes, says the NBA s Stern. In terms of looking at somebody...I don t know whether he was discriminated against because he was at Harvard., he says with a laugh, Or because he was Asian. The bottom line, says Stern, he didn t have the usual background common to a vast majority of professional players.
Lin was forced to enter the NBA the hard way, through a summer league. That experience led him to a few short stints on pro teams and the NBA s minor league, until the New York Knicks signed him for its bench.
What happened next led to a familiar word in New York City and then the world, Linsanity. Lin substituted for injured stars and played so well, he became a sports phenomenon in the media capital of the world.