Everyone, especially the media, has become obsessed with New York Knicks breakout star Jeremy Lin. Headlines everywhere are filled with awesome puns about his ‘Lincredible’ basketball skills or his ‘Linsane’ fans but I, even as a Celtics fan, am OK with it. In fact, the media obsession is perfectly rational, and here’s 17 reasons why:
1. The little guy that finally got a chance. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, he’s not your likely NBA star, especially next to Knicks stars Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. But when Amare took a week off for a death in his family and ‘Melo was injured, Lin stepped up. Big time.
2. Fans catching ‘Linsanity.’ I believe media should report on what audiences care about and, in one week, Jeremy Lin sparked higher ticket prices than last year’s “Melodrama” when the former Syracuse University star first joined the Knicks. His #17 jersey was #1 in the NBA Store this past week, and celebrities like Mike Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg and Mary J. Blige were all spotted at Wednesday night’s game.
3. Harvard University. Far too many professional athletes make academics a small part of their lives — Kobe Bryant skipped college altogether, for crying out loud. Kids look up to sports stars, so it’s nice to see they may start wearing jerseys or hang posters of a guy who had a 4.2 GPA in high school and not only finished college, but graduated with a degree in economics at one of the most prestigious colleges in the world.
4. MSG controversy. Time Warner Cable’s contract with MSG lapsed January 1 after the cable company refused to pay an extra 53 percent, meaning 2.8 million subscribers in New York couldn’t watch Lin until the dispute ended February 17.
5. Talent. You can refuse to believe the hype, but the fact is Lin scored 136 points in his first five career starts, the most by any player since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. He may not have Rajon Rondo’s speed or LeBron James’ strength, but he’s Ivy League smart and can make shots when he needs to — just ask Jose Calderon.
6. Elevates the team. When Stoudemire returned Tuesday, Lin switched to passing — he’s averaged 12 assists in the past two games, and you can expect it to go up when leading scorer Anthony returns from a groin injury. New York also had seven players score in double digits for the first time in 2+ years.
7. Fresh star in an unexciting season. Until Lin emerged, the lockout-shortened season slogged along with too many games crammed in, leading to tired/injured players. Sadly, the most exciting things to happen were either LBJ and Blake Griffin’s back-to-back dunks or Will Ferrell’s hilarious player introductions at a New Orleans Hornets game.
8. First Asian NBA star since Yao Ming. Lin, a Taiwanese-American, is in the minority in the league, but Toronto saw a rare sellout crowd Tuesday thanks to the city’s 11% Asian population that was excited to see him.
9. Ignore the racism. Floyd Mayweather and Jason Whitlock both made racist comments recently, and both MSG and ESPN have been offensive, but to pretend that bigotry hasn’t existed in sports before is naive. Lin doesn’t react to it, even when a teammate made a mock Chinese bow after his game-winning three against Toronto.
10. He never gave up. No team picked him in the 2010 NBA Draft, but he stuck with it in the NBA Summer Leagues and was eventually offered a contract with the Golden State Warriors. The team later waived him to clear up salary cap space.
11. He’s the league’s answer to Tim Tebow. The Denver Broncos quarterback fueled hype for success on the field and his religious beliefs, and Lin is not much different — his mellow playlist includes Christian artists Hillsong and Lecrae.
12. Modesty. Lin wasn’t making millions but made enough to get by, yet he was still living on teammate Landry Fields’ couch until this week. Of course, now that he’s moving into Trump Towers, that may change…
13. That nerdy handshake. He and Fields, a Stanford graduate, pretend to read a book and put on glasses in the dorkiest handshake since the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
14. Even the President is a fan. Barack Obama, the Commander-’Lin’-Chief, went to Harvard law school so of course he loves the 23-year-old alumnus. “It’s just a great story and the President was saying as much,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
15. His goofy sense of humor. Mashable found his Xanga blog (holy old Internet stuff!) where he joked as a youth about trying different styles for wearing his headband.
16. His name. If Lin’s last name was Okafor, then this hype wouldn’t be as much fun. It may be getting excessive, but let the media have fun with the nicknames ‘Lin-Sync,’ ‘Lin it to Win it,’ and ‘Linsider.’ You know you love it.
17. All he does is
win Lin. The Knicks started the season 8-15, despite having two NBA All-Stars and Chandler, who won the Championship with Dallas last season. They won all of Lin’s first 7 games as a starter to finally reach a .500 record.