All stars typically don’t come out of nowhere. They're vetted, hyped, and make their entrance into the court with high expectations.
Then there was the New York Knicks’ 6'3 point guard, Jeremy Lin. The Knicks had just lost two straight games with an overall 8-15 record. On top of that, two of its best players, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, had to sit the game out. That left Lin, a point guard who had spent much of his time in the NBA on the bench, to fill the vacuum. But since his first game of considerable play, Lin has led his team to five straight victories, scoring 20 to 38 points a game, and unleashing a wave of puns- “linsanity,” “lincredible,” and “lin-ing.”
Lin is no stranger to low expectations. Despite leading his high school team to a state championship title, he was rejected from hundreds of college basketball team. He eventually chose to go to Harvard, where he led the team to its first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 64 years. His record at Harvard did not make him immune to criticism, and he learned to shrug off racial slurs and jokes. In one game against Georgetown, a spectator shouted ‘”sweet and sour pork” from the bleachers.
In 2010, Lin left Harvard undrafted but his performance at the NBA Summer League games impressed a few teams. His hometown Golden State Warriors signed him onto the team, making Lin, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, the first Chinese American player in the NBA and a cult sensation overnight. Nevertheless, he was given little playing time, averaging 9.8 minutes on the court and 2.6 points a game. By December, Lin was waived by his team, briefly picked up by the Houston Rockets, before being cut again.
When Lin was finally picked up by the Knicks, he was living on his brother’s sofa and making a six-figure salary in a field where it isn’t uncommon for some players to make tens of millions. Then the Knicks faced off with New Jersey Nets, a game where Lin scored 25 points and led the team to a 99-92 victory. Some have even likened him to basketball’s Tim Tebow, an overlooked player who comes from behind to lead his team to victory. And like Tebow, Lin is unabashed about his Christian faith, having considered becoming a pastor before entering the NBA.
With all the extra media attention, the Knicks store has started selling Jeremy Lin jerseys and Adidas rolled out ‘Linsanity’ t-shirts. The buzz has also spread throughout social media sites and to Lin’s Youtube account (TheJlin7), where he video blogs about how to get into Harvard and a day in his life as a basketball player.
With all the buzz surrounding Lin, some are left wondering how long it would last. But with five back-to-back victories, Lin has proven that he isn’t a one-hit wonder. And perhaps more than anything, it’s his story that captivates the most people.
“Jeremy Lin is an underdog and who doesn’t love a good underdog story?” said Eugenia Beh, a fan from Texas.