Call it Linsanity. Or a Lin-Lin situation for the NBA. Jeremy Lin
is the real deal, scoring 28.5 points per game over the last four games and dishing 32 assists in the same period. You can say the Knicks may have been facing porous defenses in the first three games of Lin's back-court appearances, but last night against the strong L.A. Lakers, Lin poured in
38 points on 13-for-23 shooting. Wow.
Lin, 23, has captured not just America's attention, but the world is taking notice. His Asian-American background (his parents are from Taiwan and China) is popularizing basketball once again in Asia, motivating Asian TV channels to broadcast
Knicks games. We haven't seen this kind of feverish passion in the region since Yao Ming was drafted by the Houston Rockets.
The NBA needs the Lin story to keep rolling. He not only is reviving the lacklustre Knicks - without Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudamire for this three-win streak - but also bringing us a rise-from-obscurity story every sports league cherishes: Lin went undrafted out of Harvard, and only played an average of 10 minutes a game for the Golden State Warriors last year. He was just another bench-rider. Barely anyone knew his name outside the Bay area.
How four games can make a difference. Last night he notched a career-best 38 points, even surpassing Kobe Bryant's 34 points in the win against the Lakers. Bryant has no problem praising the star guard
: "Players don't usually come out of nowhere. If you can go back and take a look, his skill level was probably there from the beginning, but no one ever noticed. … It is a great story. It is a testament to perseverance and hard work. It is a good example to kids everywhere."
It's been awhile since the NBA featured a young star player all fans can rally around. LeBron James upset some NBA stalwarts with his Miami Heat decision, Ricky Rubio is dazzling with his sensational assists but doesn't have the same global appeal as a LeBron and rookie of the year Kyrie Irving is out with a concussion. Lin is dazzling the NBA at just the right time, masquerading as a thinner version of Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback made famous for his late-game rallies. Both are underdogs, both are playing for teams desperate for a turnaround. And both are overwhelming social media outlets with YouTube mixes
, shout-outs and Twitpics.
Not bad for a player almost cut by the Knicks a week ago.
He's saying all the rights things, too. Lin told Yahoo Sport
s: "I just try to make sure that when I get there on the floor, I play as hard as I can and try to do everything I can to help the team win." He doesn't want the media to focus on the Jeremy Lin Show. It's a team sport. But the NBA loves to forge one-man bands out of superstar players. People watch the Thunder for Kevin Durant, they tune into Clippers games to catch Blake Griffin dunks. And now the Knicks will be enjoying even more attention thanks to Lin's rise to basketball fame.
It's being reported all the Jeremy Lin jerseys are sold out
at New York's Madison Square Gardens. We shouldn't be surprised. Lin might be the flavour of the month right now, but it's a tasty treat for NBA fans looking for another hero to save a struggling team.