Thanks to Jeremy Lin, New York is a Basketball Town Again

linsanity time magazine cover

By Alex Liu

On February 4th, Coach Mike D’Antoni of the New York Knicks looked at his bench when his team was down against the New Jersey Nets. Searching for a spark to run his pick-and-roll offense, he turned to Jeremy Lin. We all know what happened after that. Lin went on to score 25 points and lead the Knicks to beat the Nets 99-92. Linsanity was born. Jeremy Lin has become the talk of the sports world. Even people who are not basketball fans are talking about him. Being a big Knicks fan since I was a kid, I grew up during the time when Patrick Ewing was the talk of the Knicks and I watched the two 90s teams that went to the NBA Finals. In all of the years since I first started following the Knicks, I have never witnessed anything like what is happening right now with the rise of Jeremy Lin. During the Knicks’ recent 7-game win streak, Lin topped Kobe Bryant by scoring 38 points in a win against the Lakers, and he outdueled Ricky Rubio in a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Lin also sealed a win against the Toronto Raptors with a buzzer-beating shot and he showed us his fancy passing skills in a lopsided win against the Sacramento Kings.

Jeremy Lin has made the Knicks matter again. His story so far is like something from a movie script except it is happening in real life. Seeing what Lin is doing has given hope to the guys who are the 12th man on their teams and the players who have been cut by a team to never give up and that when given the opportunity, they can succeed as well. Lin, the undrafted Harvard grad and the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, has remained humble and calm throughout this amazing run. In press conferences and interviews, he talks about his coach and teammates and how he wouldn’t be able to do what he is doing if it wasn’t for them. Lin has brought back a lot of people in Asia to watch the NBA again. I have friends in Asia that have been watching Knicks games late at night and early in the morning because they want to watch Jeremy Lin.

I was at the game this past Friday when the Knicks played the New Orleans Hornets. There were signs everywhere showing how much New Yorkers have embraced Jeremy Lin. Being an Asian American myself, I always tend to notice how many other Asians are in attendance whenever I go to a Knicks game. I have never seen so many Asians at a Knicks game as I saw at the game on Friday. There were even more than when Yao Ming would come to town before he retired. It was Lincredible! Even though the winning streak ended that night, Knicks fan were optimistic that Lin will learn from this game and the Knicks will continue to get better and make a run for the playoffs.

There have been questions about Lin’s game, the main one being about high turnover rate. He had 9 turnovers in Friday’s game and 45 total in his first seven starts. I think as he plays more and sees different defenses from opposing teams, he will cut down on his turnovers. Coach D’Antoni said he wants Lin to keep taking chances. So on Sunday February 19th, with the whole world watching in a nationally-televised game against the defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, Lin proved once again that he is for real. He shot a 3 pointer over Dallas All-Star Dirk Nowitzki with less than 3 minutes left in the game to put the Knicks on top 98-93. The Knicks won 104-97, and Lin finished with his best overall game so far with 28 points, 14 assists against 7 turnovers, and 5 steals.

The story of Jeremy Lin’s rise during these recent weeks has been compared to Tim Tebow and even Kurt Warner, two NFL players who exceeded expectations. Lin’s performance has been compared to 2-time NBA MVP Steve Nash. After Sunday’s game, Dallas point guard Jason Kidd said “He [Lin] looks a bit like Steve Nash out there.” I think the Nash comparison is great for Lin, since they both do well in D’Antoni pick and roll offense.

During these past two weeks, the price of Madison Square Garden stock has risen and the MSG Network’s dispute with Time Warner Cable has ended. This is due in large part to the excitement that Jeremy Lin has generated at the World’s Most Famous Arena. In recognition of his accomplishments, Lin was added to the roster for the NBA Rising Star Challenge game during All-Star weekend, and even President Obama has expressed that he is a fan. Lin said he is “very honored, very humbled” over the attention from President Obama, saying “I mean, wow, the President. Nothing better than that.”

Thanks to Jeremy Lin, New York is a basketball town again. Let’s Go Knicks!

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