MIAMI, (Reuters) – In a small chapel at the Miami Heat’s arena, New York Knicks sensation Jeremey Lin offered a simple prayer three weeks ago.
The Taiwanese-American prayed that he not be cut by the Knicks and finally be given a chance in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
“I came in late and I heard the chaplain praying for Jeremy to make the squad,” Heat power forward Udonis Haslem told Reuters Television in an interview ahead of last night’s rematch between the two teams.
Haslem frequently visits the chapel before games but he had no idea the prayer for Lin’s future would be followed by an astonishing run by the Harvard graduate who had been waived by Golden State and the Houston Rockets.
“It is a great story, I am happy for the success that he has been having but he’s on the other side and we have got to take care of our business,” said Haslem, who said he understood why Lin would want to pray for his basketball future.
“We have all been shown tremendous favour and blessed to be in this position and we use these gifts in the way that he wants us to use them. He gave us these abilities to go out and play this game the way that we are capable of playing. I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Haslem added.
Lin, a point guard, has become a sporting phenomenon since the prayer, leading a Knicks’ turnaround that has produced nine wins in 11 games since he became a regular part of the rotation.
Haslem can empathize more than most NBA players with Lin’s route into the league.
Despite an impressive college career, Haslem also was undrafted.
Before getting his chance with the Heat he played in the relative obscurity of the French league and then the NBA’s summer leagues.
“It takes a little bit of luck. You have got to take your opportunity and be in the right system, with the right core group of guys, the right coaching staff and a lot of things have to fall in your favor. It is not always just based on sole talent alone,” Haslem said.
“I am sure there are a lot of guys who, given different situations, different opportunities, can be double figure scorers, double figures rebounders and maybe be in the All-Star game. Sometimes it just takes the right situation, the right coach and the right team.”
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, himself a Filipino-American, said he hoped the Lin story eventually becomes simply one of success after adversity rather than being about the fact the player is of an Asian-American background.
“I don’t know him, but I would guess he has a kind of similar perspective as me about it. That it is a terrific to be involved in changing peoples’ perceptions, and the world is changing but that ultimately, hopefully, years from now, this story will be about the basketball story and it won’t be about ethnicity,” he told reporters.
“Because it really is about a fortitude and faith and resiliency of somebody who would keep on banging on the door when the door is shut repeatedly.”
Everyone could learn from it, the Heat coach said.
“I think it is a good lesson for young players and young people in general,” he said. “How often do you see it that sometimes the most gratifying things in life are the ones you have to work for and don’t come easily.”