Will Walthall ’14
Linsanity is here to stay. New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has created a worldwide phenomenon and continues to impress his audience game after game. The Harvard graduate has triumphed over his many doubters by scoring a record amount in his first eight starts, leading the Knicks to a 7-1 record since his first game.
Lin’s rise to fame is the quintessential underdog story. During his senior year at Palo Alto High School, Lin led his team to the Division II California state championship and upset their heavily favored, nationally ranked opponent. Despite a phenomenal end to his high school career, Lin was unrecruited by major college basketball programs. He instead relied on his academic prowess to get into Harvard University. During Lin’s time at Harvard, he earned unanimous All-Ivy League first-team honors twice and propelled the team to 21 wins in his senior year, a record for the Crimson’s basketball program.
Again, Jeremy Lin’s success was overlooked in the same way it was in high school. Lin declared for the NBA draft but was passed on by all 32 teams. However, his determination did not waver as he spent time in the NBA’s developmental league before finally signing a contract with his hometown Golden State Warriors. He was only moderately successful coming off the Warriors bench during the 2010-2011 season and was cut before the following season began.
Thankfully for Lin and basketball fans everywhere, the New York Knicks picked up the former Harvard star with hopes that he would be a decent third-string point guard. In his first month with the team, Lin struggled to break into the rotation and the Knicks considered dropping him to pursue veteran Mike James. The New York Knicks front office is thanking their lucky stars that they didn’t.
Before this season started, the Knicks were favored to be one of the top teams in the Eastern conference with a stacked roster including proven NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony and Am’are Stoudemire. However, only two months into the season, the Knicks looked terrible as Anthony and Stoudemire lacked chemistry and the Knicks were well below .500 going into the month of February. To top things off, Carmelo Anthony was sidelined due to injury and Stoudemire left the team for a week after his brother died in a terrible car accident.
It looked as if the Knicks season was a lost cause until the fateful night of Feb. 4 when head coach Mike D’Antoni took a chance by giving Jeremy Lin the first start of his career against the New Jersey Nets. Nobody could have expected what happened in New Jersey that night: Lin went off scoring 25 points and dishing out seven assists in a Knicks victory. Thanks to their new sparkplug, the Knicks have continued their “Linning” ways.
In his first eight games, Jeremy Lin averaged an impressive 25.0 points and 9.5 assists per game. The undrafted kid from Harvard is playing like an all-star and will undoubtedly be the defining story of the NBA this season. He torched Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in his fourth start, scoring a whopping 38 points. Four days later, Lin would go on to hit a clutch three-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining on the game clock, giving the Knicks a 99-96 victory over the Toronto Raptors. In eight games, the New York Knicks have gone from bottom of the heap to legitimate contenders, as it seems they finally have the piece they were missing. All of this has happened without the help of Carmelo Anthony, arguably the best pure scorer in the NBA. The Knicks and Jeremy Lin fans everywhere are praying to the basketball gods that Melo’s return won’t turn the Linsanity into calamity.
Jeremy Lin has captured the attention of the sports world and created a massive fan base in the matter of two short weeks. His uniform has become the NBA’s best selling jersey, as he has been the subject of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch and a bonifide celebrity in his parent’s home country of Taiwan. Lin is the first Asian-American to see major success in the history of the NBA, but there’s so much more to this story than the subject of race. It’s about the beating the odds, seizing and opportunity and proving doubters wrong. Never in the history of the NBA has a player come on so strong in his first eight starts, making a major statement game after game as the Linderella Story continues.