By the Numbers: Linsanity in the NBA

Little did Palo Alto native and former Golden State Warrior Point Guard Jeremy Lin know that one day his name would be pasted on headlines across sports media outlets and become a star overnight.  Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks Point Guard is living his dream.

The native Californian went on to be a Harvard Law graduate and went undrafted in the 2010 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft but was invited to workouts for five different teams.  Finally, on July 21, 2010, Lin signed with his hometown favorite team as a kid: the Golden State Warriors.

With very little playing time to display his talents in favor of the roster stars such as Guard Monta Ellis, he was placed on waivers during the first day of training camp after the 2011 lockout.  Shortly after being picked up and released again by the Houston Rockets, he would be claimed by the team that made a name for the young and rising star. On Dec. 24, Lin was claimed off of waivers by the New York Knicks.

Early in the season, the Knicks had suffered injuries to forwards Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire that gave room for Lin to start games.  From Feb. 4, the first game Lin started, to Feb. 11, Lin had scored at least 20 points, and averaged 18.6 points per 40 minutes played in the paint.  That is more than current NBA All-Star Dwayne Wade at 18.3.  Every game but the last game, which he played against Minnesota, his shot percentage was 50 percent or better.

This performance has earned him attention not only as a rising star for the New York Knicks, but also within the Asian community of fans that support him.  Signs from Asian-American fans at Knicks games can be seen saying “Harvard Alum Teaching the NBA About American Born Chinese” or “Linspiring” to others.  One fan writes to The New York Times:

“For me, as an Asian-American, the chants of ‘M.V.P.!’ raining down on Lin at the Garden embodies a surreal, Jackie Robinson-like moment. Just as meaningful to me as a Christian, however, is the way the broadcasters have hailed Lin as not just the ‘Harvard hero’ but the ‘humble Harvard grad.’ His teammates appear just as overjoyed at his success as he was. Both seem to be testaments to his character.”

He is even gaining the attention of other NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant. Bryant was asked for his thoughts on Jeremy Lin and the craze surrounding the guard that has been dubbed “Linsanity.”

“What? No idea,” Bryant said. “I know who he is but I don’t really know what’s going on too much with them.”  When further prodded by reporters, Bryant added, “I don’t even know what he’s done. Like, I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I’ll take a look at [the tape] tonight though.”

What made that statement ironic was Saturday when the Lakers met the Knicks at the Garden; Lin would outscore Bryant with 38 points to his 34.

What a great country we live in.  There’s always an underdog, an inspiring figure, an unlikely hero that rises to the challenge and spreads a wave of hope to people who previously didn’t have it. The “Linsanity” has gone viral, indeed.  Just as I awoke Sunday morning, I found out that the Jeremy Lin Golden State Warrior rookie card, sold on EBay for $4,800.  His signed Warriors jersey on Craigslist was going for about $500.  Watch a Knicks game; you won’t hear anything louder than M-V-P chants when Lin has the ball.  It’s exciting to say the least.

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