‘Lin-sanity’ a little over top

February 12, 2012


From Palo Alto High to Harvard, from Ivy League hoops to the NBA.

From the Warriors, where he was considered a novelty, a vanity project of the impetuous new owner, to a brush with the Houston Rockets to, finally, the New York Knicks.

Jeremy Lin, 23, unselected in the 2010 NBA Draft, now stands astride the Big Apple, which of course crowns him as king of our world.

Well, at least for the moment.

After getting his first career start Monday and leading the Knicks to three victories, Lin went for 38 points Friday to take down the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only was he treated to “MVP” chants at Madison Square Garden, but he also has hijacked league discourse. If you miss his TV highlights, you’d be advised to check him out on YouTube.

With the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent smashing barriers and taking a bulldozer to ethnic profiling, anyone with a pulse, no matter your loyalties, has to feel at least some of the warmth radiated by this incredible turn of events.

Lin a little more than a week ago was buried on the bench. The Knicks were considering releasing him, as had the Warriors and Rockets. After spending his rookie season shuttling between Oakland and the Reno Bighorns of the Development League, he had played all of 55 minutes for New York before Feb. 4.

That’s when he came off the bench to score 25 points to lead a win over New Jersey.

And that’s when Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who had tried and failed with Mike Bibby and Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas at point guard, decided to give Lin a start. Jeremy responded with 28 points and eight assists in a win over Utah on Monday. Two nights later, he submitted 23 points and 10 assists in a win over Washington.

The Knicks had not beaten the Lakers in almost five years before Lin almost single-handedly ended the streak. Scoring 89 points in his first three starts is the highest total for any player in his first three starts since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

In his latest trick, Lin put up 20 and eight to lead New York past Minnesota on Saturday night. He is unbeaten as a starter in New York, which naturally leads to T-shirts (good luck finding one) and tribute songs and slogans. And, yes, temporary ownership of the back page of the tabloids.

Nobody overdoes it better than New York, which not long ago tried to package a local prep star named Sebastian Telfair as the next Isiah Thomas.

The NBA PR machine and love of Gotham now are directed at Lin, making him our greatest instant sports sensation since ... Tim Tebow?

Oh, yes, there are comparisons. There will be comparisons because the public loves them and because similarities demand it, even if Lin is a Knicks point guard and Tebow a Denver Broncos quarterback.

Where Lin might be most like Tebow is that each has needed only a few highlight moments to suddenly transcend his sport.

That’s why it’s wise to pause for a moment to restore sanity. Please enjoy Lin’s ride without concluding it will last 10 years and end with his Hall of Fame speech.

Four games, no matter how spectacular, do not qualify a professional athlete for legendary status - especially when that athlete had been utterly unremarkable beforehand.

Lin through his first three starts has set the bar so impossibly high that it is unfair to expect him to consistently reach it, much less exceed it. We have to know that, don’t we?


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