Jeremy Lin was on the court for just 51 seconds for the Toronto Raptors in game three of the NBA playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.
During the entire postseason, he played only 27 minutes and scored a mere nine points.
But on Thursday night, the Harvard-educated point guard of Taiwanese descent became the first Asian-American to win an NBA title as the Raptors broke an array of records to beat the Warriors.
“God is perfectly the same through the highs and the lows. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve believed this through all the down times … and He’s just as good at the mountaintop,” Lin said in a tweet after spending game six on the bench.
Indeed, it has been a fairytale story for him and the Raptors.
During the course of his NBA career, he has played for eight teams in eight seasons after starting out with the Warriors back in 2010.
Yet it was at the New York Knicks in 2012 that he showcased his exceptional talents when he turned their season around and sparked a global craze known as “Linsanity.”
Critics had argued that injuries and age were starting to catch up with the 30-year-old. But he has proved them all wrong.
“I hope this will help grow the game all over Asia,” the Mandarin-speaking Lin said, adding that it “kind of sucks” to be the only Asian-American playing in the NBA.
On a night of pure theater, he was not the only record-breaker.
The Raptors became the first team from outside the United States to win the NBA crown and they did it with a roster of stars from around the world.
Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam scored 26 points in the title-clinching game, while Spanish center Marc Gasol was a colossus in defense.
Serge Ibaka, who was born in the Republic of Congo, blocked six shots in game three and scored 20 points in game four.
The roster also included Britain’s OG Anunoby, who missed most of the playoffs after an emergency appendectomy, and Canada’s Chris Boucher, who has been suffering from back spasms.
Even coach Nick Nurse has an international background, spending most of coaching career in England. Finally, credit must go to Raptors President Masai Ujiri, who is Nigerian, for blending talent from across the globe into a championship-winning organization.
“It meant a lot, just having guys from different countries and speaking different languages,” Siakam said. “I think it kind of got us closer together.
“And you kind of have all those little friendship with guys that you know that can speak the same language with … and from Spanish to French to English … different cultures. I think it represents Toronto in general, having that diversity,” he added.
Led by Lowry and his 26-point haul, the Raptors beat the Warriors 114-110 to win the best-of-seven series 4-2.
For Kawhi Leonard, it was another memorable milestone after winning his second NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.
“I didn’t come out in this series trying to win [the MVP],” the 27-year-old forward from Los Angeles said. “It was a whole group collectively.
“I just kept striving and pushing and I ended up with the trophy but everybody deserves it,” he added.
For Jeremy Lin, it was another chapter of high drama in a career boarding on the “Linsanity.”
– additional reporting by AFP