Forget Tebow Time … it’s Lin Time.
Well maybe that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well as “Tebow Time.” We’ll work on it.
Aside from the lack of alliteration, I think we can all agree that Jeremy Lin has replaced Tim Tebow as sports’ newest phenomenon.
Last February, Carmelo Anthony was sent to the Big Apple to save the Knicks. One year later, Linsanity is sweeping the nation, while Carmelo watches in street clothes.
New York’s record in games Carmelo’s started this season: 10-12. Their record when Lin starts at point guard 3-0. Let the Lin Era begin.
Lin’s emergence couldn’t have come at a better time. Perhaps no team in the NBA has been more desperate for good point guard play than the Knicks after they waived Chauncey Billups before the start of the season.
The Knicks have been through point guards this season like Larry King goes through wives. For the first quarter of the season, New York stumbled through one ineffective point guard after another.
First it was Toney Douglas, who was relegated back to the bench after just 12 starts.
Next came ancient Mike Bibby, who was one and done after recording a measly six points on three assists against the Thunder. Iman Shumpert, an impressive young guard out of Georgia Tech, was inserted into the lineup in Bibby’s place. Shumpert’s problem: he’s a born shooting guard. All the while, Baron Davis, a 12-year veteran with a career average of 7.3 assists per contest, has remained firmly implanted on the Knicks bench because of knee and elbow injuries.
And just when the Knicks season was beginning to look like a bigger joke than any movie Pauly Shore’s ever been in, there was Lin. A guy who’s bounced around the league more than a beach ball at a Nickelback concert. A guy who doesn’t even have his own bed to sleep on.
How did we not know about this guy until this week? The same way we didn’t believe tiny Wes Welker was worth drafting or that Jose Bautista would ever be any good. The same reason Kurt Warner was stocking shelves in a grocery store before the Rams gave him a chance. Sometimes we’re just plain wrong about these guys.
Lin, the only Asian-American player in the NBA today, is making it fun to be wrong though.
He slices, he dices. He’s a slick passer. He hustles on defense. Though it’s not his strong point, he can drain a three-pointer or two if you need it. And at 6’3 and 200 pounds, he’s strong enough to draw contact and still finish in traffic.
Best of all, just like Tebow (I wonder if Jimmy Fallon will ever dress up as Lin-Bowie), he’s humble.
You probably know at least some of the story by now. Despite being one of the best point guards in California during his high school career, the Palo Alto product couldn’t land a single D-1 scholarship.
So, he went 3,000 miles away to Harvard, a school known more for the invention of Facebook than for its basketball prowess. All he did there was rack up two First-Team all Ivy League selections and impress UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who, last time I checked, isn’t easily impressed.
Then came the 2010 NBA Draft. As Lin probably expected, his name wasn’t called.
Despite dominating the Las Vegas Summer League (where he outperformed Kentucky standout John Wall) and garnering offers from several NBA squads, Lin struggled through an unremarkable rookie season in Golden State.
Lin spent about as much time in 2010-11 in Reno with the Warriors’ Development League team, as he did in the big leagues. He finished the year averaging only 2.6 points in less than 10 minutes a game for the 36-46 Warriors.
The lockout ended and Lin’s future in the NBA became more uncertain than ever. First Golden State dropped him. Then on the eve of Opening Day (also Christmas Eve), Houston, who had just picked Lin up off of waivers, told Lin to hit the road once again.
Luckily New York, a franchise with a history of questionable player signings and acquisitions (Keith Van Horn, Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury to name a few), was forward-thinking enough to give Lin another trial-run after Iman Shumpert went down with a knee injury against Boston.
During his first month in the Big Apple, it was more of the same for Lin. In January Lin only played in five of New York’s 17 games, totaling 28 points in just 39 minutes of playing time.
With the Knicks in the midst of another skid (1-5 in their previous six games), Lin nearly matched his amount of January playing time in one game. All Jeremy did that night was torch the Nets for 25 points and seven assists.
That game happened one week ago. In one week Lin has gone from benchwarmer to the toast of Manhattan. In a shortened season where a week is an eternity, Lin has kept New York competitive in the absence of its two best players Carmelo Anthony (groin injury) and Amare Stoudemire (at home with his family after the death of his brother).
Lin has saved the Knicks season. He’s revitalized New York’s Asian community. He’s probably saving coach Mike D’Antoni’s job. Now, if only he was able to get NBC to take Whitney off the air (and bring back Community).
Twenty-five points against the Nets? Okay. Twenty-eight against Utah. Impressive. Twenty-three and ten assists versus Washington? Not bad. How about a career-high 38 against the Lakers and outdueling Kobe Bryant (34 points) on national television? Jackpot. How many will he score against Minnesota Saturday night … 50?
Have we ever seen someone climb the ladder to superstardom this quickly? Let me answer that: Lin’s 89 points are the most by any player in his first three NBA starts since the NBA/ABA merger. So no, we haven’t.
Lin may have won the starting point guard job in New York but his days of shooting 20 times a game certainly won’t last forever. Amare will return to the lineup soon and so will Carmelo, who’s ball-hogging, isolation-heavy style of play has severely slowed down the Knicks offense at times this year. But with Lin’s added quickness, fearless drives to the basket and his willingness to pass, the Knicks offense, for the first time in a while, is headed in the right direction.
It’s been quite a week for Lin. But when the day is over, after all of the SportsCenter highlights, all the screaming fans, all the tweets, Lin heads home to his brother’s lower-East side apartment (Josh Lin is studying at NYU to become a dentist) to sleep on the couch.
By surviving Tuesday’s “cut day,” Lin’s $762,000 contract is now guaranteed. With that kind of money, Lin should be able to afford his own place next year. But for now, Lin is still the homeless rockstar from Palo Alto.
All photos were taken from ESPN.com.