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Jeremy Lin Meets And Bonds With First Asian American Basketball Player

By Staff Reporter - Posted: 01/30/13 09:47AM EST
Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin scored 19 points in Houston's win over Utah last month. (Photo: Reuters)

Jeremy Lin was in Utah last Sunday to attend the debut of a documentary based on his amazing run in New York last year. A snowstorm delayed his flight, making the 23-year-old miss the actual screening of the film. (Though he showed up just in time for the post-film Q&A session.) However, Lin did get the chance to do something perhaps even more significant during his time in Salt Lake City.

He met the man who laid the groundwork for his own success.

The Houston Rockets point guard was able to meet Wat Misaka, the first Asian American player to have played in the NBA.

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Misaka, a Japanese American born in Ogden, Utah, told the Houston Chronicle he's been, of course, keeping up to date on Lin's breakout.

"He's kind of following in my footsteps and improving on them," the 89-year-old Misaka said of Lin. "I wrote him a note of encouragement when he was with (Golden State) back in the dark days when things didn't look too good for him. He didn't have all these fans at that time. He's made a lot of progress since them. I think he's in a lot better place now."

As not only the first Asian-American, but the first Asian person to play in the NBA, Misaka was drafted by the Knicks in 1947 -- the team's first draft pick -- after leading Utah to the 1944 NCAA and 1947 NIT championships.

Lin, of course, said he was humbled by meeting Misaka. 

 "He was before all of us. He broke a lot of stereotypes, a lot of barriers and racial stereotypes. You have to pay respect to the people who came before you," he said.

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