Amazing what can happen in one week, because it was just that long ago when 99% of us, myself included, had no idea who Jeremy Lin was. Now there are a barrage of nicknames that are seizing the headlines in his honor; Linsanity, Linspirational, Linsational, Linderella and even Super Lintendo, all just a few of my favorites. Heck right now I swear I’m listening to Virtual Linsanity by Jamiroquai. Those parody cover songs come in fast.
There have been debates already as to what makes Lin’s story so special. Some say it’s that he’s Asian; the fact he’s of Asian decent gives that demographic someone relatable to cheer for. Lin is only the fourth Asian-American player in the NBA’s 66-year history.
Others say that it’s the fact that he didn’t play for a major college program like Stanford, his hometown school he had wished to play for but didn’t receive a scholarship offer, but went to Harvard instead.
Sure, those racial and collegiate facts all play a part. You can also imagine the immediate sensationalism you would get by playing in the media hub of New York City as well. But this is a giant story because of the way he has played more than anything else. It’s a true under-dog story. And in a sport where only 12 guys get to dress for the game, it happens less in basketball than anywhere else.
Lin was recently named Eastern Conference player of the week after averaging 27.3 points and 8.3 assists while leading the Knicks to a perfect 4-0 record, doing all of this without stars Carmello Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Lin’s 109 points are the most by an NBA player in his first four starts since the 1976-77 season, and he is the first player in league history to score at least 20 points and nail seven assists in his first four starts. Impressive? Just a little. Especially considering no one has wanted him.
Already have been cut by the Warriors and Rockets since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Lin wasn’t even sure how long he would be with Knicks. In fact, reports have come out that Lin has been crashing on teammate Landry Field’s couch, because the status of signing an extended contract was still very uncertain. After putting up historical numbers and playing like an all-star in five games, Lin now has that contract, and it’s worth $762,195. Now he can buy his own couch. Or upper east side apartment.
If you haven’t watched this kid yet, you need to. He’s fun to watch. He can slip through the lane and take it to the rack as good as anyone. At 6’3” and 200 lbs., he’s still little and quick enough to shock you with one of his throw down dunks, but big enough to guard some of the larger point guards in the league. In fact, he’s so fun to watch and already carries such a large following, he makes a free-throw during a home game at Madison Square and it sounds like Notre Dame after a Rudy Ruettiger sack.
The Knicks were desperately looking for a spark before Linsanity began, and in my opinion only one of two things can happen going forward: Lin drives and thrives, or Linsanity comes back down to earth and we’re all put in the mental Linstitution.
Before starting Lin, New York not only lost 11 of 13, but were without Carmello due to injury, and without Amare due to bereavement of his brother. Both stars are set to return this week and everyone is wondering how Lin will mesh with the team’s all-stars. We all know how Steve Nash flourished with Stoudemire in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense in Phoeniz. If Carmello can learn how to share the ball more, I think Lin can no doubt be a top ten point guard; which of course, is quite the compliment considering the league is driven by outstanding point guards as of late.
I predict that if he stays healthy within this shortened and demanding 2012 NBA schedule, and cuts down on turnovers, Lin averages somewhere around 16 points and seven assists per game the rest of the year. After the season, he’ll also host Saturday Night Live, prove he can act, sing and dance and do movies in Hollywood during the off-season, basically becoming the modern day Asian-American Joe Namath. Look out sponsors!
But it doesn’t matter what I think. Just look at how people are reacting. It’s not every day you see a kid come out of nowhere to blow up a scoreboard for the New York Knickerbockers. So buy yourself a #17 Lin jersey (right now the highest selling jersey on NBA.com), because this kid is going to be around awhile.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS