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Jeremy Lin and Talent Acquisition: Leave No Stone Unturned

Jeremy Lin

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Frank Kalman for Talent Management magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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Unless you’ve been trapped underneath a rock for the these last two weeks, are on day 20 of a month-long TV, newspaper and Internet boycott or have just been too busy with work to notice, then you’ve probably heard a lot about Jeremy Lin.

Lin, who plays professional basketball for the New York Knicks, has a remarkable story, one that even relates to corporate on-boarding or talent acquisition in general.

If you are a sports fan, you immediately know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, but watch the news or read the newspaper, then you’ve probably gotten bits and pieces of Lin’s remarkable rise to the spotlight.

Here’s a primer:

Lin is an Asian-American basketball player who just a little less than two weeks ago was about as famous as you or I and living on his brother’s couch in New York.

A Harvard graduate and economics major, Lin played four years of basketball as an Ivy Leaguer — and a good one at that. Even though he was one of the top scorers on his California high school basketball team, Lin wasn’t really recruited or offered a scholarship to play basketball at a major school. He was also a great player at Harvard. In 2010, he went undrafted for the NBA, and managed to scrap his way onto the benches of the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets before getting cut by both teams.

On Dec. 26, Lin was unemployed. On the Dec. 27, the Knicks claimed him off waivers, mainly because a slew of injuries left the team desperate at the position Lin plays, point guard.

Lin’s first month or so on the Knicks was much like the rest of his NBA career up to that point — he stayed on the bench, playing some minutes here or there, but never really breaking in and getting a chance to play. Then, on Feb. 4, in a game against the New Jersey Nets, everything changed.

With the team desperate for a starter at point guard, Lin came off the bench for the Knicks. He scored 25 points and tabulated 7 assists in a 99-92 victory for the Knicks. The following Monday, again given a chance to start against the Utah Jazz, Lin scored 28 points and added 8 assists. The Knicks’ next game, on Feb. 8 was a similar story for Lin — 23 points, 10 assists. Then, last Friday, the novelty and “Linsanity” really came on strong, when the unlikely hero scored a career-high 38 points and 7 assists against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Before those first four starts, Lin had averaged just 2.8 points and 1.6 assists per game in his NBA career. After those four starts for the Knicks, Lin was averaging 28.5 points and 8 assists per game.

But wait. There’s more.

Perhaps the apex of all the “Linsanity,” as was coined via social media amid his unlikely run, came Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors. With the game tied, 87-87, and the game clock nearing zero — 5 … 4 … 3 …[click here to see the video] — Lin took the ball at the top of the three-point line, waited for the right moment, took the last shot and drained it. “Knicks Lin.” “All he does is Lin.” “He just keeps Linning.” The puns were aplenty, and it appeared as if everyone was totally abuzz with Lin fever.

The novelty of it all is its status as the most obvious of underdog stories in sports. Because Lin doesn’t fit the typical profile of a professional basketball star, went to Harvard as an economics major and was all but dismissed as not worthy of the NBA, no one gave Lin a chance. Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, no one has scored more points in his first five starts in the league than Lin. Not even Michael Jordan. No one.

So what does it all mean for talent management?

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Frank Kalman is an associate editor of Talent Management magazine. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he earned his master’s of science degree in Dec. 2010. He is also a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, earning a degree in American history in May 2009. Prior to joining MediaTec, Frank served as an editorial intern for Crain’s Chicago Business, covering commercial and residential real estate for Crain’s real estate spinoff, ChicagoRealEstateDaily. He also covered public finance and commercial banking while a reporter at Medill. Frank can be reached at

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