Nike N7's Sam McCracken: Jeremy Lin Is an Inspiration to Native Youth
With less than a second on the clock, Jeremy Lin nailed a three-pointer against the Toronto Raptors last night, clinching the New York Knicks' sixth straight victory. Since making Lin a starter 10 days ago, the Knicks haven't lost a game.
The 23-year-old, Harvard-educated guard remains modest, even as "Linsanity" sweeps across the globe. "I'm thankful that my coaches and teammates trusted me with the ball," Lin told USA Today.
Lin can even count President Barack Obama as one of his many fans.
"It's just a great story and the president was saying as much this morning. Obviously terrific for the New York Knicks but it's the kind of sports story that transcends the sport itself," Obama's spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One with the president to Wisconsin this morning, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The Taiwanese player's meteoric rise in popularity is inspiring people of all backgrounds, races and creeds.
General Manager of Nike N7 Program and Chairman of the N7 Fund Sam McCracken, from the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux reservation in northeastern Montana, admires Lin's perseverance. Lin's "determination to follow his dream and his passion is inspiring to all Native youth," he says.
McCracken also respects that Lin, who for weeks slept on his brother's couch on the lower east side of Manhattan, doesn't let obstacles stand in his way. Native youth are often "trying to get somewhere with minimal resources," says McCracken, who is familiar with humble beginnings. McCracken got his start working in Nike’s distribution center in Beaverton, Oregon, before creating a business plan that gave rise to N7.
McCracken, who coached high school basketball for 30 years, considers the sport ingrained in native culture.
"This sport is so critical to our population. Basketball is probably the most recognizable sport in our community today," McCracken says. "I think of basketball as the heart of our community—the ball bouncing in the gym. Native communities really rally around their local high school basketball teams."
And Lin's success, as one of only a few Asian Americans who have ever played in the National Basketball Association (the most recognizable aside from Lin being Yao Ming), can inspire native athletes, McCracken says.
"Now 'Linsanity' has taken hold, and I can’t wait for the opportunity for one of our native athletes to get to that level. We have Jacoby Ellsbury in baseball and Sam Bradford in football. On the women’s sidel, we have Tahnee [Robinson], who will hopefully provide that level of excitement when she comes back from Israel. There was the same excitement when Alvina [Begay] represented the United States in the Olympic [Marathon] Trials."