A Linprobable Journey

Linsanity! All he does is Lin! We have heard every possible Jeremy Lin pseudonym in the past week. What the New York Knicks guard has done is simply amazing. As of Monday he was averaging 25 points and 9.2 assists in his last 9 games, in which the Knicks have gone 8-1. Lin scored more points in his first four starts than any player in NBA history with 109, passing future hall of famers Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, and some guy named Jordan. But the story of Jeremy Lin goes far beyond the numbers he has been able to put up. The obstacles he has overcome on his way to NBA stardom are astounding.

Lin is an Asian-American from Harvard University, better known for producing rocket scientists than basketball players. In fact, the last Harvard player to play in the NBA was Edward Smith in 1954. He averaged all of 2.5 points in 11 games playing for the New York Knicks. Coming to the NBA from any Ivy League school is rare, as the last player from any such school was Chris Dudley of Yale who played for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2003. Lin is also an Asian-American, something of a rare commodity in the NBA as the last was Wataru Misaka in 1947 who played just three games for – you guessed it – the New York Knicks. The odds stacked against Lin get even bigger however. Lin has been cut by multiple teams, including the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, and he has been sent down to the D-League more than once. The NBA’s developmental league is a place known to destroy more careers than it has resurrected. Even Rockets general manger Daryl Morey, who cut Lin just before the Knicks picked him up, regrets his decision. Back on February 9th Morey tweeted, “We should have kept [Jeremy Lin]. Did not know he was this good. Anyone who says they knew misleading U.” Lin has surprised everyone in the past week, with Linsanity drawing comparisons to Tebow-Mania in the NFL.

Although the craze surrounding both has been similar, Tebow and Lin have had very different paths to stardom. Tebow attended Florida University, a football powerhouse, and won two National Championships as well as a Heisman Trophy in college. Jeremy Lin attended Harvard University, a school that has not made the NCAA tournament since 1946. Tim Tebow was a first round pick by the Denver Broncos and an instant fan favorite. Lin was undrafted and bounced around from city to city until finding a home in New York. Tebow astounded analysts everywhere with his ability to win games at the last second despite playing horrendously for the games’ first 55 minutes. Lin has dominated his wins from the start.

Lin has not been perfect though; he has averaged more than five turnovers per game. Some naysayers also say that Lin is just a product of Knick coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. Others believe the run will end when Carmelo Anthony returns and Lin will not have as much free reign to run the offense. But Jeremy Lin is the real deal. The Knicks were just 8-15 before Lin’s magical run and now they have won eight of nine games with Anthony injured. Although Lin’s numbers may go down when Anthony returns, he has turned the Knicks into a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference. The Jeremy Lin story is simply Lincredible.

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