Yup, that’s a ™ symbol. The perfect cherry on this sundae is that Jeremy Lin has filed to trademark his very own catch-phrase. This guy has put the NBA on its ear and also made the NY Knicks a relevant franchise again. If you’ve been observing closely, he’s also given us some very interesting brain candy:
1. Talent may already be on your bench ~ NOBODY gave Lin playing time. Through the first 23 games of the 2012 season, he averaged the same amount of playing time as your neighborhood mailman. Forced to play him because of injuries, the Knicks walked right into a movie of the week. Lin doesn’t sniff the court if Baron Davis or Mike Bibby were healthy. The new catalyst for the franchise was buried on the bench, set for release until he became the last man standing. Coaches (managers?) will accept mediocre performance from a known quantity, even at their own detriment.
2. It takes all types ~ Lin is Asian-American. He played college ball at Harvard. He doesn’t look, talk or act like the boiler-plate NBA player. He wasn’t an unknown talent – Lin won a California State Championship in high school and led the Harvard Crimson to a 21-8 record his Senior year. But he doesn’t look like an NBA player. Coaches (managers?) like people who fit a mold, then wonder how they “missed” a talent like Lin.
3. All-Stars don’t always transfer well ~ Lin is the lowest-paid player on the Knicks roster. He’ll make just more than $600K this season; Carmelo Anthony, the prize 2011 free-agent acquisition for the Knicks, will make $18M. The Knicks also signed former All-Stars in Davis and Bibby. During the Knicks recent seven game win streak, only one of these gentlemen played – guess who? Acknowledge our propensity to over-value the assets of a competitor at the expense of developing homegrown talent, and take steps to protect your blind spot.
4. A rising tide lifts all boats ~ The Knicks were 8-15 and dead in the water. Players were under fire, the GM and coach were under fire, the stakeholders wanted heads to roll. Ten games later, the coach is a genius, the roster is energized and the GM is hailed for finding a diamond in the rough. The success (wild, crazy, infectious success) of one individual can propel an entire team to greatness.
5. “Cinderella” is a fairy-tale ~ Prior to his break-through with the Knicks, Lin toiled in the NBA Development league and was cut or released by at least four other NBA franchises. Cinderella got a slipper and a ticket to the show, Lin was sleeping on a buddy’s couch and working on his ball-handling skills. Cinderella went home at midnight, “Linderella” forced his way into the starting lineup.
Jeremy Lin may provide more lessons before he’s done with his incredible run of success. You can already see the effort that some “experts” will expend to explain his inevitable return to anonymity. At the same time, you can also be assured that every coach in the league is taking another look at the end of his bench, wondering if he has the next Jeremy Lin waiting for a chance to shine.
As you assess the talent in your own organization, challenge those around you to consider options outside of their respective comfort zone. “Linsanity™” doesn’t happen without an opportunity to play ~ how deep is your bench?