If the name Jeremy Lin does not ring any bell, you really need to emerge from the coconut shell you’ve been living under.
Buried deep on the bench a little more than a week ago, 23-year-old Lin was recently called up to start in the absence of marquee players Carmelo Anthony (groin injury) and Amare Stoudemire (bereavement leave).
In his first four games as a starter, Lin has propelled the Knicks to four straight victories with point totals of 25, 28, 23 and 38 against the Nets, Jazz, Wizards and the Lakers. His incredible feat has raised him from obscurity to international stardom.
In the game against the Lakers on Friday night, “Linsanity” outgunned Lakers legend Kobe Bryant (34 points), ending the mighty Lakers’ dominance of the Knicks as New York held off the Los Angeles Lakers. His two free throws with 52 seconds left amid booming “MVP! MVP!” chants stopped the Lakers’ final rally and allowed the undrafted Harvard product to pass Carmelo Anthony for the highest-scoring game by a Knicks player this season.
“I didn’t try to see this game as any different,” Lin said following his amazing performance, which also included 7 assists and two steals. “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.
“The only thing we established tonight is four in a row. Now we try to go for five tomorrow. I’m not too worried about proving anything to anybody. As a team we’re growing and trying to build on the momentum.”
Kobe Bryant, who a day earlier said he didn’t know anything about what Lin had been accomplishing this week, also had nothing but praise for Lin following the Knicks-Lakers matchup.
“He has been phenomenal,” Bryant said. “We have watched some tape on him. We came up with a strategy that we thought would be effective, but he was knocking down his jump shot, penetrating and he got around our guards. …
“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.”
Jeremy Shu-How Lin (Chinese: 林書豪; pinyin: Lín Shūháo; born August 23, 1988) received no athletic scholarship offers out of high school and was undrafted out of college. The Harvard University graduate reached a partially guaranteed contract deal with his hometown Golden State Warriors. Lin is one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history, and the first American player in the league to be of Chinese or of Taiwanese descent.
Lin is the first player in over 50 years to make it to the NBA from Harvard. The last player was Ed Smith who also went to the New York Knicks in 1953.
Lin is the first player in the history of the Ivy League to record at least 1,450 points (1,483), 450 rebounds (487), 400 assists (406) and 200 steals (225). He graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics and a 3.1 grade-point average
The New York Knicks claimed Lin off waivers on December 27 to be a backup behind Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby after an injury to guard Iman Shumpert.
On February 4, 2012, Lin had 25 points, five rebounds, and seven assists—all career-highs—in a 99–92 Knicks victory over the New Jersey Nets. After the game, Knick coach Mike D’Antoni said Lin has a point-guard mentality and “a rhyme and a reason for what he is doing out there.” In the subsequent game against the Utah Jazz, Lin made his first career start. He had 28 points and eight assists. In a game against the Washington Wizards, Lin had 23 points and career-high 10 assists. It was his first double-double. On February 10, 2012, Lin scored a new career-high 38 points and had seven assists, leading the Knicks in their victory over the Los Angeles Lakers with a score of 92–85. He scored 89 points in his first three career starts, the most by any player since the merger between the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the NBA in 1976–77, according to ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Associated Press called Lin “the most surprising story in the NBA.” Bloomberg News wrote that Lin “has already become the most famous Asian American NBA player.”
Knicks fans developed nicknames for him along with a new lexicon inspired by his name, Lin. Time.com ran an article titled, “It’s Official: Linsanity Is for Real”. Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson said, “The excitement Lin has caused in Madison Square Garden, man, I hadn’t seen that in a long time.”
Lin’s high school coach, Peter Diepenbrock, said that people without meaning any harm assume since Lin is Asian that he is not a basketball player. The first time Lin went to a Pro-Am game in Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco, his coach said, someone there informed him: “Sorry, sir, there’s no volleyball here tonight. It’s basketball.” During Lin’s college career, fewer than 0.5% of men’s Division 1 basketball players were Asian-American.
Lin has regularly heard bigoted jeers at games such as “Wonton soup”, “Sweet and sour pork”, “Open your eyes!”, “Go back to China”, “Orchestra is on the other side of campus”, or pseudo-Chinese gibberish. Lin says this occurred at most if not all Ivy League gyms. He does not react to it. “I expect it, I’m used to it, it is what it is,” says Lin. The heckling came mostly from opposing fans and not as much from players.
Lin was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in Palo Alto, California. His parents, Gie-Ming and Shirley, emigrated from Taiwan to the United States in the mid-1970s. They are both 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) tall. His paternal family comes from Beidou, Changhua in Taiwan; while his maternal grandmother is from Pinghu, Zhejiang in today’s China. He has an older brother, Josh, and a younger brother, Joseph. Gie-Ming taught his sons to play basketball at the local YMCA.
Lin grew up in a devout Christian family and would one day like to be a pastor who can head up non-profit organizations, either home or abroad. He is a regular churchgoer and when asked of his favorite Christian music he replied, “Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Shane &Shane and Mercy me.”
He has also talked of working in inner-city communities to help with underprivileged children. Lin also has a YouTube account, and has made videos with YouTube personalities Nigahiga and KevJumba.
In a video interview conducted by Elie Seckbach, he asked Lin how it felt to be representing so many people. Lin responded by stating, “It’s humbling, a privilege, and a honor. I’m really proud of being Chinese, I’m really proud of my parents being from Taiwan. I just thank God for the opportunity.”
There are a few new terms that have come to the forefront since February started: “Legend In New York” , “All I Do Is LIN LIN LIN” and Linsanity.
Filmmaker and longtime Knicks fan Spike Lee is giving Lin nicknames, “rattling off new handles for Lin, slam poetry style.” Spike Lee tweeted after the Knicks-Lakers game: “Jeremy ‘Kobe Wuz Smokin’ But I Wasn’t Joke-‘Lin. Tonight Was NO FLUKE. I Seen It Wit’ My Own 4 EYES. JLin Is LEGIT.NBA DEAL WITH IT.”
Magic Johnson is bowled over by the energy Lin is bringing back to MSG. And Mike D’Antoni, whose future with the Knicks seemed perilous even 10 days ago, is saying “I’m riding him like freaking Secretariat.”
Steve Novak, a former Dallas Mavericks player, “has dropped fountains of three-pointers” since Lin took over the PG position, and Iman Shumpert summed up what the world now knows about Lin: “Jeremy doesn’t need all this attention from everybody,” he said. “He’ll give you the clothes off his back. And that’s what makes him a rock star.”
Post-game from his career-high 38 points, seven assists and four rebounds, Lin’s comment was “I just give all the praise to God,” when asked about the game. He was quick and eloquent in sharing the victory with his teammates, just as he has done since all this started.
Jeremy Lin….a real star. And such a humble one.
Watch the Knicks-Lakers game: