By Ben Golliver
Jeremy Lin is 24, a global superstar, a full-time starter for the Rockets, and the recipient of a three-year contract worth more than $25 million last summer. That success on and off the court hasn't made him forget what life was like when he was a high school senior in 2009, when he opted to play basketball for Harvard after receiving little interest from major college programs near his hometown of Palo Alto, Calif.
In a CBSSports.com preview of an upcoming interview on 60 Minutes, Lin points to his race as a factor in his lack of scholarship offers from major programs.
"I think the obvious thing, in my mind, is that I was Asian-American, which is a whole different issue," he said. I think that was a barrier."
Asked why race would be a barrier, as Asian-Americans are fully capable of playing basketball, Lin said: "I mean, it's a stereotype."
This isn't the first time the Taiwanese-American Lin has addressed the issue of race and how it has affected perception of his basketball abilities.
At All-Star Weekend 2012 in Orlando, Lin, who was not drafted out of Harvard and was cut by the Warriors and Rockets before he exploded during the 2011-12 season for the Knicks, said he felt he had an extra chip on his shoulder because of how people looked at him as an Asian basketball player.
"I think [bias] has something to do with it," Lin said. "I don't know how much. But I think just being Asian-American, obviously when you look at me, I'm going to have to prove myself more so again and again and again, and some people may not believe it."
Lin also said he felt his game might be described in certain ways because of his race.
"I know a lot of people say I'm deceptively athletic and deceptively quick, and I'm not sure what's 'deceptive.' But it could be the fact that I'm Asian-American. But I think that's fine. It's something that I embrace, and it gives me a chip on my shoulder."
Lin signed his new deal with the Rockets as a restricted free agent. After it initially seemed as if the Knicks would match all offers, they instead allowed him to leave for Houston.
In a November 2012 interview with Yahoo! Sports, Lin wondered whether people criticized the size of his Rockets contract because of his race and said his high-profile rise only makes his opponents come after him that much harder.
"I was a little surprised, but I wasn't shocked. I honestly feel it's part of the underlying issue of race in American society … of being an Asian-American. I haven't figured it out. I haven't wrapped my head around it. But it's something I'm thinking about."Lin is averaging 13.1 points, 6.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals for the Rockets, who are on track to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
"I've always been a target," Lin says. "Everyone looks me and says, 'I'm not going to let that Asian kid embarrass me. I'm going to go at him.' That's how it's been my whole life. This has been different, though. Now, I was on the scouting report. People started to pay attention to what I could and couldn't do.
"But a target? I was used to that. I'm not saying I get everyone's best shot, but I would say people don't want to be embarrassed by me because of my skin color."