Sports

The story of Linderella running wild for the New York Knicks

“Linsanity” is sweeping the nation. The story of Jeremy Lin, the undrafted New York Knicks guard from Harvard University, has exploded in the media since his performance on Feb. 4 against the New Jersey Nets. He is the ultimate underdog. Two weeks ago, he was unsure of his job security; now he’s the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He has set the record for the most points scored in a player’s first six starts, and he single-handedly put the Knicks back into playoff contention when they were falling by the wayside.

Lin led the Palo Alto High School basketball team to a California state championship, but he wasn’t recruited to a single Division I basketball program. He went to Harvard University, where the academic competition is strong but the athletic prowess is not. Lin played against substandard competition but still solidified himself as a good college player.

He was undrafted out of college, but was signed last year by the Golden State Warriors and struggled to stay on the team. After getting cut by the Warriors, he was signed by the Houston Rockets and cut before he was able to play a single game. Ironically, Lin has since blossomed with the Knicks.

Lin’s rise to fame could not have come at a better time for the NBA. With the end of the NFL season, the NBA was ready to capture the interest of the American public. Basketball fans are always aware of the up-and-coming NBA stars before the players are even out of high school — Miami Heat forward LeBron James’ high school games were broadcast on ESPN.

Typically, the big stories involving young players center around them failing to reach their potential. That is why Lin’s story is much more enthralling. He came out of nowhere and captivated the sports world, both in America and abroad. In the U.S., Lin’s jerseys have become a leading seller in sports apparel. Globally, multiple Asian television providers now carry Knicks games, so the first Taiwanese-American NBA player can be broadcast across the world.

Lin got his shot in the worst of situations. He was pulled off the bench as a last-ditch effort by Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to save his floundering team. The Knicks were desperate for a solid guard since Chauncey Billups, now with the Los Angeles Clippers, left the team last season. Before Lin, the Knicks were in bad shape. After starting the season 6–4, the Knicks lost six straight and hadn’t reached a .500 record, until Lin and their subsequent winning streak.

He has played incredibly well the past two weeks, but his scoring pace is going to be nearly impossible to maintain. With the return of all-star forward Carmelo Anthony, Lin’s game has to change. With Anthony averaging over 18 shots a game, Lin will be forced to be a more balanced point guard than a high-volume scorer.

It’s important to realize that Lin is only human. While he was scoring the most points for any NBA player through his first six games, he was also shooting far too many shots. Lin has to accept that most nights he will be the Knicks’ third-best scoring option. He showed signs of progress in his first game with all-star teammate forward Amar’e Stoudemire, taking on six shots but dishing out 13 assists in 26 minutes of playing time. That night, Lin showed the kind of weapon he can be for his team. With his ability to drive to the basket, Lin can draw in defenders, opening up his teammates for uncontested dunks and three-pointers.

Lin has been a godsend for New York, but fans must realize it’s not his scoring ability that makes him great: It’s his ability to open up the floor. He won’t average 25 points per game for the rest of his career. But eight assists per game is an attainable mark. The quicker Lin, the Knicks, and the public can understand this, the faster we can stop celebrating Lin for the high-volume scorer he has been, and embrace the amazing point guard he can someday become.