Linsanity takes over New York


New York Knicks point guard has taken the NBA by storm during the past five games, averagin more than 25 points per game. Photo by: DV Lang / Flickr

I remember reading this article a few years ago and thinking that how great would it be if this guy made it to the NBA. If he could represent and give hope for all the Asian Americans out there that anything is possible despite what the naysayers may say.

A little more than two years later and call it what you want, but Linsanity has taken over the sports world and my dream for this guy has come true. When Yao Ming sadly retired from the game in July, who would’ve thought that a little known point guard from Harvard would immediately take the torch and keep the Asian influence alive in the NBA? No offense to Yi Jianlian, but he wasn’t cutting it.

Yet that’s exactly what Jeremy Lin has done over the last week and a half ever since that fateful February night two Saturdays ago, where he took the world by storm. Lin came off the bench and notched career numbers – 25 points, five rebounds and eight assists – and led his New York Knicks to a 99-92 victory over the Nets.

Since that night, Lin has started the last four games, the first four of his career, and has amazingly led the Knicks to a 4-0 record in that span, including a 92-85 win over the Lakers, which he outdueled Kobe Bryant in front of a national TV audience.

“Players playing that well don’t usually come out of nowhere. It seems like they come out of nowhere, but if you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning. It probably just went unnoticed.” That’s what Kobe had to say after the game. And that’s some high praise for a guy that averaged just 2.6 points per game as a rookie last season when he was with the Golden State Warriors.

The point to be made, as Kobe mentioned, is why did Lin go unnoticed? When you take a look at his track record, he led Palo Alto High School to 32-1 record and a CIF state title over nationally ranked Mater Dei High as a senior. He was a first team All-State selection and the Northern California Division II Player of the Year among several other accolades.

Then he received no athletic scholarship offers. Not even Stanford, the school right there in Palo Alto, offered him nothing. Lin got zilch, nada. What did he end up doing? Well he went on to Harvard and was a three-time All-Ivy League performer. He was named one of the country’s 12 most versatile players by ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla among the likes of Evan Turner, Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, all of whom were drafted in the top 10 of the 2010 NBA Draft. As a junior, he was the only player in the nation to rank among the top 10 in his conference in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free percentage and three-point percentage. As a senior, he helped the Crimson to its most wins in a season in school history. He became the first player in Ivy League history to record at least 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. The list goes on and on.

Then he went undrafted, even after Jim Calhoun, the coach of the No. 12 UConn team who barely beat Harvard during Lin’s senior season, 79-73, said, “I’ve seen a lot of teams come through here, and he could play for any of them.” This after Lin dropped 30 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the losing effort. After a summer league stint with the Mavericks, he eventually signed with the Warriors, only to play in 29 games as a rookie. Lin was then waived by the Warriors and then by the Houston Rockets, before winding up with the Knickerbockers.

Even then the story is not complete. Just two weeks before his breakout game against the Nets, Lin recorded a triple-double for the Erie BayHawks in the D-League. Now four NBA starts later, he’s the first player in league history with at least 20 points and seven assists in his first career starts. His 109 points in those starts is the most by any player since the ABA-NBA merger (the guy scored 76 points all season as a rookie with Golden State!).

Will he keep up this pace? Chances are probably not. Not with Amare and Carmelo both rejoining the lineup as early as this week. But is he a flash in the pan? Chances are probably not as well. Anybody that’s watched this guy knows he can run the pick and roll, an absolute vital piece of Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Wondering why the Knicks flat out sucked before Lin took over? Look no further than the guys they had running the point, Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas? Are you kidding me? I mean the Knicks were eagerly waiting for Baron Davis to join the lineup! And Mike Bibby hasn’t been relevant in what seems like a decade!

I’m all about the Linsanity train. After all, who’s this avid Asian basketball fan supposed to look up to? Lin is a success story, regardless of his race, but it sure is nice to see an Asian American ballin’ it up in the Association.

Look I don’t know how long this will last, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can. If Kobe thinks he’s legit, call me convinced. He should know after all, Kobe put up 34 last Friday night at the Garden and Lin showed him up with 38 of his own…and the W.

All he does is Lin, and I couldn’t be happier for him. Hard work truly pays off in the end.

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