First off, let's get past the fact that Jeremy Lin is just the fourth player of Asian-American descent to play in the NBA. The guy can flat-out ball and is the perfect spark for the New York Knicks and their fan base.
Whenever you can take the sports world by storm the night before the Super Bowl, you are doing something special. Lin did just that on Saturday, putting up 25 points in 35 minutes in the Garden against the New Jersey Nets.
Before the game was over, he had the fans in the world's most famous arena shouting, "M-V-P, M-V-P!"
By Monday, he was named the Knicks' starting point guard—but he didn't stop there. Later on that night, he managed to lead the team with career highs of 28 points and eight assists, in a victory against the Utah Jazz.
Did I mention that he did this without Carmelo Anthony, who left the game in the first quarter due to injury, and Amare Stoudemire, who is on leave due to a death in the family?
A star is born.
He is a star because he has energized a struggling team that seemed to have no future. He is a star because the bright lights of Madison Square Garden don't seem to bother him. He just wants a chance to show the world what he can do.
Jeremy Lin is a star because of where he has come from and the adversity he had to go through to become the Knicks' starting point guard.
The star high school player from California couldn't even get a scholarship from schools in his home state. Despite a 4.2 GPA, a perfect score on his SAT II Math 2C, a first team All-State spot, a Northern California Division II Player of the Year award and a player of the year designation by most California publications, he was told to walk on by Stanford, Cal and UCLA.
He sent DVDs to all those schools, including two Ivy League schools. Harvard and Brown were the only two schools to offer him a guaranteed spot on their basketball teams. Even though Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships he chose to go to Harvard.
After a solid career at Harvard, Lin went undrafted in the 2010 NBA draft and bounced around the NBA.
He first turned heads in the NBA Summer League that year, while a member of the Dallas Mavericks' summer league roster. He played well against the No. 1 overall pick John Wall and became an instant fan favorite.
From there, Lin went to the Golden State Warriors—his favorite team growing up—where he saw sporadic playing time due to a glut of guards on the team. He was waived the first day of training camp after the lockout ended, to clear up salary-cap space so the Warriors could make an offer to then-free agent DeAndre Jordan.
Lin made it to the Knicks off of waivers from the Houston Rockets, who let him go to make space for Samuel Dalembert. Even the Knicks did not believe in Lin right away, and they buried him between the D-League and the end of the team's bench.
At this point, Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni is fighting for his job and career. Jeremy Lin has been fighting for his career since high school. It is only right they found each other.
After Saturday's performance, D'Antoni said Lin had a "point-guard mentality" and a "rhyme or reason to what he's doing," to reporters in the locker room. While that may not seem like much, the Knicks have not had a point guard who can make the right plays since the coach got to New York.
Jeremy Lin is no Steve Nash. But, then again, Nash was somewhat of an unknown before he hooked up with D'Antoni in Phoenix and became a household name.
Lin still has a long way to go. Along with his career highs in points and assists last night, he also had a career-high eight turnovers.
There are also still the questions of whether he can sustain this effort for an entire season and whether he can maintain a high level of play against the likes of Derrick Rose and other great point guards.
The Knicks need a stabilizer, a guy who can get Anthony and Stoudemire the ball within the flow of the offense. Somebody who can reward Tyson Chandler for his energy efforts with a lob, and make sure Landry Fields and others get quality shots.
With the current news of Baron Davis' setback, the Knicks need Lin that much more. Lin has the confidence and trust of his teammates needed to make a run in an Eastern Conference that is top-heavy, but weak everywhere else.
He can be the driving force behind a big run over the next couple of weeks that can catapult the Knicks right back into the playoffs.
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