The Time 100 List of Most Influential People in the World came out and, no surprise, Lin is on it: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,2111975,00.html
I’m not sure if this list is ranked, but he does appear on the top spot on this list and I think he should stay on top and here are just some of the reasons why. Arne Duncan penned the piece on Lin for the Time 100 and I think Arne nailed it when he said that Lin lives the right way and plays the right way. We need more people in the spotlight in our celebrity-crazed world to live the right way and to actually be a role model to our kids as well as ourselves. If our future is our kids, then Jeremy Lin should be on the top of the list of Time 100, because we need our kids to have him as a role model.
Lin does the right thing when no one is looking. A great example is during the Jersey game in which they lost and Deron Williams scorched him and the Knicks for 38 points, Lin came up to Humphries after the game to tell Humphries that he doesn’t think it’s right that Knicks fans kept booing him throughout the game (because of his infamous divorce with Kim Kardashian). I mean, who does things like this? This very simple act makes Lin a great role model. Time and time again, he does the right thing when no one is looking. Another example is when he had lunch with the notorious ESPN headline writer after the whole controversy had died down and he finally had some free time. Lin could have easily just not be concerned about this insignificant human being, but he saw a chance to reach out to someone who he knew was probably suffering because of the incident. And he chose to keep their conversation private and not talk to the media about their meeting. Critics may say that he carefully orchestrated this meeting to “look good”. But this scenario doesn’t jive with Lin’s personality. And it runs counter to the example I gave about Humphries above. The most likely answer of why he did what he did is because it was the right thing to do in that particular case. Lin does, indeed, do the right thing–even when no one is looking.
He’s been discriminated, passed up, and overlooked throughout his life in the basketball arena, but he doesn’t complain and continues to work tirelessly on all the things that he does have control over. Anyone in his situation would have given up a long time ago. Anyone would have given up if they had led their high school to a state championship only to be passed up by every legitimate college basketball program. Anyone would have given up if they had great games against top college teams, torching future first round picks only to go un-drafted out of college. Anyone would have given up after being passed from one NBA team to another, only to sit at the very end of the Knick bench. Anyone, but Lin. Through every disappointment, Lin continued to go to the gym and the court to work on his conditioning and his game. To be a better basketball player in every way, even though no one was looking. Lin deserves the top spot on the Time 100 for his passion, his work ethic, his belief in himself, and his perseverance.
Aside from all the inner stuff that makes him special, Lin’s influence is wide ranging. Yes, he has a huge legion of Asian fans, but I’ve never seen any one individual touch people from so many different backgrounds. Asians love Lin, because he’s broken down racial barriers and stereotypes. Christians love Lin, because of his faith. Non-Christians love Lin, because he’s not over-the-top about his faith, unlike Tebow. Knicks fans love Lin because of the seven-game winning streak he gave them. Basketball fans love Lin, because he brings back the excitement of team basketball and he’s a beast during clutch time. Grandmas at retirement homes love Lin, because he’s such a decent young man and they want their kids to be like him. Celebrities love Lin, because it’s cool to like Lin. Anyone who’s ever felt like they’ve been passed up, overlooked, yet deep down they know they are good and decent love Lin because they see themselves in Lin. And anyone who loves an underdog story loves Lin. So Lin’s wide ranging influence alone should give him the top spot on the Time 100 “Most Influential” People in the World list.
But perhaps the biggest argument for giving Lin the top spot on the Time 100 list, is that for a few weeks, Lin made time stand still. He mesmerized the entire world. We all felt like we were living inside some really cheesy movie, in which everything unfolded too perfectly and the good guy always came out on top. Every game he played was like some corny sports movie in which the underdog prevailed (Lin vs. Kobe) or the hero came from way behind to hit the last second shot to win the game (Lin vs. Raptors). For a couple of weeks, anyone could slip into a beautiful, perfect world, courtesy of Jeremy Lin. And most of us did. Many of us are still there in fact.
Lin made the NBA relevant, again. He made the Knicks relevant, again. He brought back basketball fans who had taken a long hiatus from the game, such as myself, and he introduced new fans to the game. So for bringing out the joyful kid in all of us, Lin deserves the top spot on the Time 100 list.