It's o.k. to go 'Linsane'
Unless you're a big Ivy League fan or happened to watch every second of the Golden State Warriors' 2010-11 season, you probably hadn't.
I had only heard of him because when the New York Knicks signed Lin on December 27, my Twitter timeline exploded. Apparently I follow a lot of NBA writers and fans who were reaching for something interesting two days after Christmas. I remember thinking to myself "this is a lot of attention for a guy I've never heard of."
Maybe they knew something after all.
Lin, who played a total of 339 minutes in the NBA before being inserted in the Knicks' starting lineup on February 4, has taken the league by storm like no player we've ever seen. More than Bird, Magic, Jordan or LeBron; those rapid ascents to greatness were expected. Lin has come out of nowhere, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the NBA.
The fear that the lockout would lead to less-than-stellar play has been realized. Shooting and scoring are down league-wide. Twenty-four of the NBA's 30 teams have had games in which they've scored less than 80 points. Eight teams have had games in which they've failed to crack 70.
Other than a couple of jaw-dropping dunks by LeBron James and Blake Griffin, I defy you to name a league-defining moment that occurred in the first five weeks of the season.
That's why Lin is a godsend. He's been able to capture the imagination of fans that have tuned out the NBA for years. Just the other day, a colleague of mine here at KTAR stopped me, engaged me in a conversation about Lin, and admitted "I haven't cared about the NBA in ten years."
The Knicks are 5-0 since Lin entered the starting lineup, and he's averaged over 27 points and 8 assists in those five games-- only the best 5-game beginning to a player's career as a starter in NBA history. But Lin has done more than resuscitate New York; he's breathed life into the NBA again.
There have been the obligatory comparisons to what Tim Tebow did for the Denver Broncos last season -- taking over a 1-4 team and leading his team to an AFC West title. But let's face it, the NFL didn't need the help. All Tebow's story did was add another layer of frosting on an already delcious cake.
What Lin has done is tantamount to pulling a burnt roast out of the oven and making it edible.
And let's not forget, Tebow was close to a household name when he started his streak of awesomeness in 2011. Lin was almost completely unknown and had been cut by the Golden State Warriors (oops).
There's one question that remains: can Lin keep it up? My clear answer is, who cares? What we've seen is one of the most heart-warming, inspirational stories since Rocky. Except this is real, and we're right in the middle of it. You couldn't write this.
If you pitched the "Asian-American from Harvard who becomes a star for the Knicks" idea to Hollywood studio, not only would they reject you, they'd have you escorted off the premises by security.
Even if Lin peters out, we've been treated to one of the most improbable sports stories ever told.
I have a feeling this will all end happily, but I'm not too concerned about the conclusion.
This ride has been fun enough to make me put that on hold.