The buzz in Flushing these days is about Jeremy Lin and residents can’t get enough of the Chinese-American basketball star who is leading the Knicks to victory.
Since his meteoric rise, Lin has led the team to six victories in a row — including Tuesday’s dramatic contest against Toronto that he won in the final second — and even his teammates are calling him inspiring.
Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District and a big Knicks fan, said the “Lin-sanity” is spreading and he is “very proud” of the player’s accomplishments. “It’s a great story,” Yu said. “He never gave up and had the determination to succeed.”
A native of California, Lin did not get an athletic scholarship to any college nor was he drafted by a pro team. After graduating from Harvard, he was finally claimed by the Golden State Warriors, who then let him go. He was claimed off waivers by the Houston Rockets last Dec. 12, then released and picked up by the Knicks on Dec. 27. He began as a starter last week when injuries plagued several of the regulars.
Lin is the first American player in the NBA to be of Chinese descent and was named this week as Eastern Conference player of the week.
Stanley Yang, 18, a senior at RF Kennedy Community High School in Flushing, knows all of Lin’s statistics and history. Yang, who enjoys playing basketball himself, watches Lin’s games on television and calls him inspirational.
“Lin is a great underdog player,” Yang said. “He worked very hard to get to this point. He’s under a lot of pressure and really proved himself.”
Pauline Chu, president of the Chinese-American Parents Association, says Lin is a great role model for children. “He has skills and is very smart,” Chu said. “He’s so good and we’re proud of him. I love to watch him play.”
The Flushing resident noted that Chinese parents push their children to study and do well in school, but that there needs to be a balance with the arts, music and sports and that Lin exemplifies that. “The Chinese are not known for playing basketball, but we all love the sport,” Chu said. “You need a strong body and you need to be aggressive.”
Fred Fu, who heads the Flushing Development Center, is very excited about Lin and watches all his games either at Madison Square Garden or on cable TV. “His playing has been a surprise,” Fu said. “No one can predict what will happen, but the NBA needed him.”
Fu was able to grab up the few remaining Lin jerseys at a game last week at MSG and says the sporting good stores won’t have them in stock until Feb. 22. He wore his shirt to a Community Board 7 meeting Monday night.
Kathy Liu, a program coordinator at the Flushing YMCA, said it’s great to see an Asian-American player in the big leagues. “He’s very humble and that’s what I like about him,” Liu said. “He’s also very talented and I’m glad he got the opportunity to play.”
City Comptroller John Liu, who makes his home in Flushing and is no relation to Kathy Liu, offered the following statement on Lin: “See, we’re not just math nerds! Not only has Jeremy Lin given a boost to Knicks fans, he has also helped smash stereotypes for Asian Americans. The sky’s the limit — it’s about time the Knicks had a parade, too.”
Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) attended the Knicks game on Friday and got a chance to meet Lin. She was impressed.
“The success of Jeremy Lin has been a huge source of encouragement to the NY Knicks and many New Yorkers,” Meng said.“His success is also a symbol of Asian Americans, who are American in every sense of the word.
“He helps break the stereotype that unfortunately too many people hold of Asian Americans — that those who look Asian are not American,” she added. “His work ethic, humility and success are what makes Americans and New Yorkers proud — Asian and non-Asian.”
Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) is in Israel and could not be reached for a comment.
James Wu, a Flushing businessman and Democratic activist, called Lin’s rise “awesome,” adding, “He got a chance and he’s making it work. It’s amazing.”
Lois Chin Lee works with children at PS 20 in Flushing and said that Lin has been a real inspiration to youngsters. “We have a basketball team made up of 10-year-old fifth graders and they are very excited about him,” Lee said. “Now everyone takes an interest in the PS 20 games, even grandmas are coming out.”
She added that Lin “has leveled the playing field” for Asian Americans, because it has been “hard for them to break into sports. Now kids feel they can make it.”
Lee said that Lin is a good role model for youngsters because he is very humble and his success doesn’t go to his head. “He also showed that success can be reached with hard work,” she added.