Finding Your Inner Naruto in Jeremy Lin

JLin Naruto Ninja Way

Jeremy Lin wore Naruto headband and posted “This is my Ninja Way” to thank his Asia fans in Instagram in July 2014. He demonstrated what appears to be the Shadow Replication Jutsu in the Naruto anime.

Throughout the years, Jeremy Lin has curiously used a lot of references of his favorite manga series Naruto. From his own Youtube videos in 2013 to the recently trending Space Jam 3 spoof video starring Naruto and himself, we can see Jeremy’s deep fascination with the anime series.

He further confirmed on a Reddit Q&A that Naruto is indeed his favorite Anime in October 2015. That certainly bodes well to draw millions of Anime fans to become his fans.

But the question remains. Is there a special reason why Jeremy likes Naruto so much?

In 2016, Jeremy Lin collaborated with his close friend/famous Youtuber, Ryan Higa, to produce a hilarious spoof Space Jam 3 Anime video. Jeremy starred as himself and Ryan played the Naruto character. There were funny dialogue where Naruto can speak as Jeremy’s alter ego retelling his own experience.

[1:15] “You don’t look like a basketball player. You look like … one of us”

In August 2015, Jeremy proudly congratulated his little brother, Joe Lin, upon signing with Taiwanese league in 2015 by using ‘kekkeigenkai’ term. It means abilities passed down genetically within specific clans in the Naruto realm.

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In the summer of 2013, he made an inspiring off-season training Youtube video featuring the eye-pleasing replication jutsu, which is Naruto’s favorite technique

Why does Jeremy Lin like Naruto so much?

There are so many aspects of Jeremy’s own personal journey that matches up to how Naruto fought to become the head of his village and the ninja world. There is a lot of parallels in their stories on how so many people try to put both of them down as failures but they never let others define them or deter them from fighting for their eventual destiny. This story line probably resonates deeply with Jeremy’s own journey in the NBA.

What is Naruto?

Naruto is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, an adolescent ninja who constantly searches for recognition and dreams to become the Hokage, the ninja in his village who is acknowledged as the leader and the strongest of all.

Naruto vs Neji Battle

From wiki summary
Naruto’s first major public battle as a youngster was during the ninja exams. His fight with Neji in the first match of the finals was a very dramatic one. During the fight, Neji lectured Naruto much as he had done with Hinata during the preliminaries, telling Naruto that failures remained failures and that this could not change. But Naruto refused to accept it and repeatedly told Neji that he is known as a guy who doesn’t know how to give up despite the multiple beatdown. Naruto eventually won the battle through a combination of the demon fox’s power sealed within him and sheer belief in victory. In the process, he changed Neji’s outlook on life, and inspired him to create his own fate, thus forming another important bond. Naruto was able to make Neji understand that destiny could be changed, and they became good friends from that point on.

[10:38] Neji: “You thought you could be Hokage. It’s absurd! NEVER! These eyes of mine show me many things. One thing it shows me is people’s limitations are set. Fixed and unchangeable. Only a fool wastes his time trying to become something he can never be!”

Naruto: “Here we go again! Who are you to judge who a person can or cannot be?”

Never Accept the Destiny or Bias Limited by the Society

Neji’s lecture to Naruto on accepting destiny is a very common human theme. Often we all experience degrees of inner battle with authorities trying to pigeonhole us into define roles of what they believe we should be. Someone posted recently that a college coach openly said that they would never recruit any white PGs. It’s no wonder Lin was not given a scholarship by any colleges despite winning first-team All-State and Northern California Division II Player of the Year.

One of Malcolm Gladwell’s early books (“Outliers“) talks about how coaches unwittingly created a bias of age discrimination for kids because a child entering the school system can have an age advantage by being born early in the year. A same grade student born early in the year has an advantage over a child born late in the year attending the same grade. As they take that first step into the system, their coaches contribute to that advantage by self fulfilling prophecy as well as reinforcement of the child’s self belief.

When a coach says that he would only recruit black PGs, his mindset represents a systemic mindset that creates a prophetic result by excluding anyone else from changing that limit. It is no wonder Keith Smart didn’t play Lin and openly said that Lin was a promotional side show for the Golden State Warriors. Jerry West also said that he believes that the NBA has become predominately an African American league because everyone believe that athleticism was more valuable on national TV. The funny thing is no one made a fuss about that comment. If he had said that NFL quarterbacks are mostly white because the league drafts for intelligence, there would have been an uproar and West would have been fired. A bias is a bias no matter how you slice it.

NBA Preconception Shattered by Jeremy Lin

Kobe said after the Knicks game when Lin scored 38 points that someone screwed up to not see Lin’s talents. Someone did, the whole league and scouting system did screw up by projecting their own bias on players. When you look at a player like Bismarck Biyombo, and realize that Steve Clifford didn’t give him a chance and Cho allowed him to just walk, you really wonder about their ability as coach and GM. They projected a belief of what Bismarck’s abilities were and never gave him a chance to prove otherwise. As coach and as a mentor to youngsters, I try very hard to check my preconceptions of what each child is capable of and put as much effort to every child in the program. All too often, students will fulfill the prophecy of your low expectations. It takes special kids to rise above that handicap.

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks

Like Naruto fighting against Neji, Lin has been told by so many people that he should just give up and accept his fate as someone who should never pursue basketball as a career. He has been told by scouts, coaches recruiters, GMs that he doesn’t belong. It is too easy to just go with the flow and accept limits set out by others. There are far too many with their jobs on the line to rock the boat and say otherwise. That’s why there are so many experts that regurgitate the same facts and stats. That’s why there are even Lin fans who agree with them.

We should all strive to learn from Lin and not let our own self-doubts and self-imposed limits be projected onto others.

Never Let Our Self-Doubt Define Our Limits

As fans, as Christians and as good people, we should all strive to learn from Lin and not let our own self-doubts and self-imposed limits be projected onto others. Choosing to be positive is not an easy thing, it’s down right the hardest thing for us to do when all around us is fear and violence. All you need to do is look at the US Constitution and the high ideals written in it and realize that it’s almost an impossible dream to strive for. It is why it is so great as well because it forces us to believe it is possible. It is easy to look at the negatives and allow past stats and “preset limits” of a player to project and forecast a doom-and-gloom scenario. It is easy to blame the problems of our society on others, on foreigners.

Lin is not about limits, he’s about hope and faith in his fellow man. Lin believes that “a rising tide raises all ships”. Much unlike some who would rather throw people over board in order for themselves to be successful. It’s very easy to agree with the experts who take existing stats and make false assumptions based upon the set limits of past coaches. It is like a race car with a speed-limiter on it. How can you judge a talent if you don’t let it loose? Lin did that with all the bench players and rookies during Linsanity when all the stars went down with injuries. Lin unleashed them and took their limiters off.

Lin is not about limits, he’s about hope and faith in his fellow man.

Find People Who Can Unlock Your Self-Belief

The greatest players believe they are simply the best. They believe in the work they have done to be the best. The difference between making the clutch shot often teeters on that confidence. A great coach has the ability to add confidence to their players. Under McHale’s coaching in Houston Rockets in 2012-14, Lin’s confidence was slowly whittled away by McHale’s constant reminders of what he believed were Lin’s limits, that Linsanity was a fluke meteoric phenomenon. McHale insisted Lin should accept his role as a support player. McHale projected his own self-doubts onto Lin when Lin had a 38 point game in a Spurs game because Harden was injured. Lin messed up the last second shot to beat the Spurs because McHale gave Lin a look of doubt instead of confidence. Mike D’Antoni (MDA) on the other hand did not hesitate when Lin had a chance to win against the Raptors. MDA added confidence to Lin’s mindset and simply told Lin to take the shot. The rest is pure magic. The greatest coaches are the ones that can unlock a player’s self belief and add to their confidence. We will finally see Lin’s limiters off and with the full confidence of his coach to help him succeed.

The greatest coaches are the ones that can unlock a player’s self belief and add to their confidence.

I can’t wait for the season to begin.


#TBT Jeremy Lin with Kenny Atkinson in Linsanity Era. Photo by @manu77728 in March 2012. Atkinson was named Nets head coach in 2016.

Author: @acbc

Editor: @psalm234

By acbc