While he jokes about possible endorsements in the above video, Jeremy Lin revealed in a recent interview that he turned down millions in endorsements during Linsanity. The reason? He wanted to focus on basketball. You might think “no big deal,” but he says that the endorsement money would have been bigger than his salary, including his upcoming $14 million dollar season.
Lin says in that interview that he has been given a talent by God, and that he should concentrate on developing it. Completely separate from his views of God, I think an excellent point can be learned from this about focus and opportunity. The window to play professional basketball is not very large, and later in life, he might regret being distracted by overdoing off-court activities like endorsement activities and not giving basketball his best possible effort. If the opportunity of a lifetime comes up, seize it with both hands, as reaching for other things might let it slip from one’s grasp. That’s a great lesson not just about basketball but for life in general.
It’s hard to feel sorry for Lin, who has gotten a large contract (some say too large) and done endorsements like Volvo and recently signed with Adidas. He doesn’t seem the type to squander his money like Alan Iverson, and he is unselfish enough to have set up a charitable foundation. He does seem to indulge in videos, vines, and other social media, but some of these efforts seem to also business oriented. His YouTube channel with 400,000 subscribers recently joined the Whistle Sports Network. One would think that his years at Harvard would have trained him to manage his time well.
It could be that life in LA might prove to be a distraction, but it looks like Lin understands this and even jokes about it. The upcoming 2014-2015 season will show whether his focus pays off.