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|Jeremy Lin has found a system that fits him and a coach that believes in him ... and he has exploded.|
|Mike D'Antoni's confidence in Jeremy Lin is going a long way.|
“San Antonio's Gregg Popovich would be the first to tell you that he wouldn't be the longest-tenured coach in the NBA if it weren't for Tim Duncan. But Popovich maximized his status to create a culture, one that wound up being perfect for Bruce Bowen. Bowen had unsuccessful tryouts with Golden State and Phoenix, bounced from the CBA to France to a chaotic Rick Pitino-era Celtics team that Bowen said was "literally, fend for yourself." He wound up at the bottom of the Philadelphia 76ers' roster, then was waived and claimed by the Miami Heat. Bowen flourished in Miami, starting 72 games in his first full season with the team. He played well enough to attract the attention of the Spurs the next year ... and by his second season in San Antonio he had tripled his salary and played on the first of three championship teams. If defense is your thing, the Spurs are your team. Their rotations were so excellent that you didn't have to worry about looking bad because someone else wasn't where he was supposed to be. Bow was the perimeter defender to go with the dual big men of Duncan and David Robinson inside, and their interior prowess allowed him to be more aggressive because they could handle anything that got past him. Bowen was the escape hatch on offense, able to knock down 3-pointers when the opposition focused on Duncan or Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker. It took three leagues and four NBA jerseys, but Bowen found a home. "I always had the confidence," Bowen said. "It was the matter of getting an opportunity. You get cut, it should create a drive in you. "It's key to make sure you still have faith in your own ability. Because if you don't, who will?" Bowen's point raises an interesting aspect of the Lin saga: Is it possible that his early struggles to catch on don't just make it a better story, but are the reasons for the story? Would he have improved at the same rate if he were a first-round pick with a guaranteed contract? Is it also possible that being Asian-American didn't just feed the post-starting hype, it helped create the player? An NBA talent evaluator told me one reason Lin went undrafted was because "he was a victim of racial profiling because of his ethnicity." Scouts hadn't seen Asian-American guards succeed in the NBA, thus they had a hard time envisioning it for Lin. Let's just say Lin didn't have to spend a lot of time driving around looking for a gas station to fill up his motivational tank. Time for one last review. A highly determined player given additional incentive placed in a system that perfectly suits his skills. We've seen it before, with the likes of Kerr and Bowen. Lin is just the latest. Surely there are other players out there who could fit the equation ... if only the right team would solve for x.
When your coach has your back like that, as long as you're playing smart there's nothing you can do wrong. I definitely see that's what's going on [in New York], with D'Antoni having confidence in him and his teammates believing in him.” -- Lakers forward Matt Barnes