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Thursday, August 5, 2010
Rex Walters following the Jeremy Lin story

By Diamond Leung

San Francisco coach Rex Walters has yet to meet Jeremy Lin, but wants to extend an invitation to the presumed newest member of their small fraternity  -- Asian-Americans who have played in the NBA.

When Lin is in the neighborhood and wants to work out away from the Golden State Warriors practice facility, Walters would like to have the USF gym doors opened for him.

What's a little red-carpet treatment for a kid who was shut out from receiving a Division I scholarship? And Walters, who starred at Kansas and played seven seasons in the NBA, as much as anyone else appreciates how Lin can be an inspirational figure for Asian-American players.

"I don't look Japanese," Walters said, referring to his mother's heritage. "When they see him, it's an Asian-American.

"It's great for Asian-Americans. And he's not 7-foot-4. It's great to see that they can make it."

Walters does his part to inspire as well. In the spare time he has away from rebuilding a Dons program that captured national championships in the 1950s, he also coaches his son and the rest of the fifth grade boys who play for the SF Flying Eagles -- an Asian league team.

Walters grew up in San Jose playing for Asian league teams himself and looks forward to following Lin's stereotype-shattering career. With few Asian-Americans playing college basketball, let alone reaching the NBA, the story of how a Harvard graduate with Taiwanese parents made the league could be a game-changer.

"You can't believe the detractors," Walters said. "They have to get over the stereotype that they can't make it."