Much like those Bruce Lee movies in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Jeremy Lin is kicking everyone and anyone who tries to get in his path.
The moment New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni finally called Lin’s number the Harvard graduate has been nothing short of spectacular, winning over the Madison Square Garden crowd and blowing through the Big Apple like a Tim Tebow hurricane.
In his last four games (three of them starts), Lin has put together MVP-like numbers: 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists against the Nets; 28 points and eight assists against the Jazz; 23 points and 10 assists against the Wizards; and a career-high 38 points and seven assists against the Lakers to upstage Kobe Bryant, who had 34 points.
If you don’t think he’s playing like an MVP, just listen to the MSG crowd on Friday night when Lin – the first Asian-American to play in the NBA – dismantled the Lakers with devastating dribble penetrations and dagger outside shots. The Garden was going bananas after each Lin basket in the fourth quarter. Not bad for someone who a month ago was running with the Erie BayHawks of the D-League. Now, he is running point for a Knicks team that has the NBA absolutely buzzing.
“I’m just thankful it turned out the way it is,” said Lin, whose basketball odyssey is part perseverance and, like Tebow, part divine intervention.
He was snubbed in high school when Pac-10 schools Stanford and Cal (his hometown schools) passed on him. He went undrafted after a solid college career at Harvard. He was signed as a free agent but later waived by the Golden State Warriors (again, dissed by his hometown team); picked up by the Houston Rockets but later waived to make room for Samuel Dalembert. When he was picked up by the Knicks he rode the bench for a month before finally getting an opportunity to play on Feb. 4 against the Nets. The rest is biblical.
Because of Lin, the league says Asian TV partners have requested to broadcast additional Knick games this season. Because of Lin, New York has something to look forward in the winter and spring when the New York Giants go into their offseason. Because of Lin, Amare Stoudemire (who has missed the last three games due to a death in the family) says he smiled for the first time in a week. Because of Lin, D’Antoni may keep his job.
And get this. Lin is a huge Tebow fan. How’s that for a side story!
“What he’s doing is amazing,” D’Antoni said after the Knicks defeated the Lakers at MSG. “He answered a lot of questions tonight. Can he make an outside shot? Can he pull the trigger in a big moment? He hit two 3s that just broke the game open. There’s so much stuff that he’s doing.”
Lin followed his 28-point, eight-assist outing Monday in his first career start by scoring 23 points and handing out 10 assists Wednesday against Washington, becoming the first player since LeBron James in 2003 and just the sixth since 1970 to have at least 20 points and eight assists in his first two starts, according to research from the Elias Sports Bureau.
The 6-foot-3 California native is treating the NBA like some rec league in Alhambra. For those who have been to Almansor Park in Alhambra, you know exactly what I mean. He is fearless when he goes to the basket. He runs the pick-and-roll like Steve Nash, and the Knicks’ offense looks much more fluid with Lin as the primary ballhandler. It will be interesting to watch how D’Antoni will use Lin once Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire return to the lineup. Memo to D’Antoni: Let Lin loose.
Lin may not be as polarizing as Tebow, but he has definitely taken the NBA social media by storm. Twitter was abuzz during the Lakers-Knicks game and “#JeremyLin” was trending worldwide. Celebrities sitting courtside at the Garden dropped some sweet tweets about Lin. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted: “Incredibly special to sit courtside tonight and witness the emergence of a New York Knick star – Jeremy Lin. #LinSanity.” Ben Stiller wrote: “Linsanity. Knicks on a roll. Energy at the Garden was Linsane.”
And then there was Charlie Villanueva’s Lin tweet: “Jermey Lin the yellow mamba.”
First of all, Charlie V. can’t spell “Jeremy.” Secondly, calling him the yellow mamba is not exactly complimentary. Once again, it just proves that Twitter is not for everyone.
But the best tweet of the night came from Orange County Register basketball writer Kevin Ding. He wrote: “Just left Madison Square Garden after Lakers-Knicks. Smiling fellow caught my eye and said: ‘Lin! Can I have your autograph?’ “To echo ESPN’s J.A. Adande’s Twitter message, Kevin Ding was mistaken for an NBA player for the first time in his life. #lineffect
In the Chinese calendar, 2012 is the year of the dragon. In New York, No. 17 is already Lingendary.
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastbreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.