Few could have predicted Jeremy Lin's meteoric rise to popularity, both in New York City and across the world. The Harvard-educated point guard, the first American-born player of Asian descent to play in the NBA has come out of nowhere to become the league's hottest topic. Who could have seen all this coming?
Well, Andrew Slayton, for one. He served as an "official unofficial" assistant for Palo Alto High School during the Lin years. In that time, he attended practices, sat on the bench and had a front-row seat for the California state championship that the school won.
He also registered Linsanity.com anonymously on July 17, 2010. Thanks to clever headline writers — and Lin, of course — that phrase has become a thing. Advantage, Slayton.
Since Lin's shocking debut, the website that lay barren for almost a year and a half suddenly became populated with t-shirts celebrating the second-year man's accomplishments, with slogans ranging from "LIN.Y.C." to "Lin Your Face." All of these pun-driven items are available for $16.
Here's where things get a little weird. This morning, we received a tip about the site as well as the man behind it. It seems that we weren't alone. It turns out that the tipster is a "sports marketing expert." Coincidence? We think not.
We followed up anyway, and Slayton was more than willing to speak on all things Lin.
"We've been waiting for our hero to go Linsane, knowing it was just a matter of time," he said. "Jeremy has always been big-time. But, he’s been pooh-poohed as not big-time enough for a long time. And, at every level he’s had this sort of coming out party where people finally go – 'Wait. That Asian kid is the best player in the gym, isn’t he? And, you say, “ahhh, yeah he is… and by a lot.”
Slayton recalls one of his favorite Lin moments from Palo Alto.
"I remember a time I came late to a game – the fourth quarter – and I sat down behind the bench and sort of assessed the game, Jeremy wasn’t in and we were losing. Typically, Jeremy never left the game but I think he had foul trouble and the clock was winding down and things weren’t looking good. Then it dawned on me that the head coach, normally very on the ball, had forgotten about Jeremy and so had the bench assistants. So I yelled to my buddy, the head coach, “Hey don’t you want Jeremy in the game?”
"I remember Jeremy kind of looking around with a look like “yeah, he does.” Well, coach quickly got Jeremy in that game and bam! It was game over. Jeremy’s just that special in the clutch. There are so many phenomenal moments in his high school career and that was one that was fun to be part of."
Slayton said that he's happy to see Lin get the respect he always thought he deserved and that interest in his shirts has already caused him to change his production process.
The inspiration for the term "Linsanity" struck Slayton, an avid writer, when Lin was at Harvard. He knew that, in time, it would become part of the cultural consciousness.
"This is just the beginning for Jeremy," Slayton said. "I believe that he will have a great NBA career. Linsanity is going global. And, we wish Jeremy nothing but success."