"Jeremy Lin of the '90s": Belief in self is key

Arne Duncan on Jeremy Lin: "Jeremy Lin's story is a great lesson for kids everywhere because it debunks and defangs so many of the prejudices and stereotypes that unfairly hold children back."
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The "Lintastic" "Linderella" story of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, which has come to be known as "Linsanity," is very much alive, even though the Knicks lost Friday night to one of the worst teams in the National Basketball Association, the New Orleans Hornets, breaking the New Yorkers' seven-game winning streak with Lin in the lineup.

The undrafted, unknown, once-overlooked Harvard grad scored 26 points, the seventh time in eight starts he's scored more than 20.

His most unlikely rise from nowhere and almost being cut from a third team to sudden stardom is inspiring and bringing pride to Asian-Americans nationwide and causing a worldwide sensation, reports CBS News correspondent Betty Nguyen.

John Starks can relate to what Lin is going through.

He, too, rose from obscurity to become the toast of New York in the mid '90s. He bagged groceries when he wasn't playing ball in junior college. Then, the undrafted star bounced around the minors before the Knicks called. He thrived under the bright lights of Broadway and played a big role as the Knicks came close to winning the NBA title in 1994.

Starks told "CBS This Morning" co-host Rebecca Jarvis stories like his and Lin's are "incredible. It's a great feeling when you know you have the ability to do something and no one's taken a look at you. I understand what he's going through now -- that, 'Hey, I just needed an opportunity.' And finally, he got it."

Starks said even Lin is probably surprised at his sudden success. "It's about having confidence in yourself," Starks says. "He's one of those guys who has a lot of confidence, a lot of belief that, 'Hey, give me the opportunity, and I can go out there and do it.' He's putting on a show. He's doing it for going on eight straight games now."

Even Lin's agent says the Knicks might have been his last stop, had he been cut, which apparently would have happened if not for an injury to someone else keeping him around.

"Everything is about timing in life," Starks notes. "The Knicks were looking for a point guard and he was the right kind underneath their eyes. It was great to see that he didn't get cut and that coach (Mike) D'Antoni gave him the opportunity, and he's really showing what he can do out there. I love the way he plays with energy, he plays with smarts. One thing you can say about him, and I always look at a player is ... he has a big heart."

Dealing with rejection, Starks, "comes down to believing in yourself, knowing that, 'Hey, if I get the opportunity, I'm going to make the most of it." I can see that in him. Obviously, he's a very intelligent young man, going to Harvard. But that don't make you a great basketball player. He has a great basketball IQ, and a big way of going out there and playing in big moments."

Starks says Lin's story helps him relive his own. "You can see," he says, "especially in the Garden (Madison Square Garden, the Knicks' home) right now, the excitement the back. Fans are piling in before pregame. It didn't used to be that way. For us, it was that way all the time. But the excitement (is there from) the start of the game to the end. It creates so much belief that the team has the opportunity now. And that's what it takes."

Editor's note: The Knicks are auctioning off the jersey Lin wore when the Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers Feb. 10, to benefit the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit organization making dreams come true for children facing obstacles. Fans can bid for the autographed jersey, four tickets and a postgame meet-and-greet with Lin for the Feb. 22 game against Atlanta, on CharityBuzz.com. The current bid is $15,000. The auction will end Feb. 21. Lin posted a career high of 38 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in that game.