From New York to Asia, Lin is a hoops sensation
Bigger than Shaq? Larger than LeBron? The Knicks as NBA
(Don’t laugh too hard at that last one. The odds are getting
better, according to one online sports book.)
Nothing seems too Lin-possible now after Jeremy Lin’s incredible
first week as an NBA starter, and the story keeps getting
The undrafted player from Harvard made a 3-pointer with
five-tenths of a second left Tuesday night to give the Knicks a
90-87 victory at Toronto.
Lin and the Knicks returned home Wednesday night and ran their
winning streak to seven games with a 100-85 victory against
Sacramento that got them back to .500 after an 8-15 start.
Lin joined the rotation only then, starting the last five games,
so hold off on making him a Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal or
LeBron James just yet. But the Knicks have seen enough to believe
this ride may last a while.
”I don’t know when there’s an ending, maybe there won’t,”
coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Lin’s story has blown straight past the New York sports pages
and all their cute headlines such as ”Va-Lin-tine’s Day,” all the
way to a basketball-crazed continent on the other side of the
Lin also has done wonders for shares of Madison Square Garden
Inc., the company that owns the Knicks, the Garden and the namesake
sports network. The stock has surged 9 percent since Lin began his
heroics Feb. 4, reaching an all-time high of $33.18 earlier this
week before retreating slightly to close at $31.91 Wednesday.
”Rangers and Knicks fans do tend to buy the stock when the
teams are doing well,” Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce said.
And Linsanity has reached America’s most powerful basketball
fan, with President Barack Obama talking about Lin’s winner
White House spokesman Jay Carney called Lin ”just a great
story, and the president was saying as much this morning.”
Lin arrived in New York in December with no guarantee he’d last
more than a few weeks. Already cut by Golden State and Houston this
season, he was so hesitant to get comfortable in his new home that
he refused to even get his own.
Instead, he slept at his brother’s place in the city, and had
crashed on teammate Landry Fields’ couch the night before his
breakout game against New Jersey on Feb. 4.
Even an Ivy League education couldn’t help Lin explain what’s
happened since – the most points in any player’s first five games
as a starter since the NBA merged with the ABA in 1976, and a
contract that’s guaranteed for the rest of the season.
”No, but I believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing God who
does miracles,” Lin said.
If that sounds familiar, yes, Lin has been frequently compared
to Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. Both relied on their faith as much
as their previously overlooked skills to guide them through hot
streaks that made them sensations even beyond their sports.
Tebow carried the Broncos right into the playoffs, and now there
are some who believe Lin can do the same with the Knicks.
The Knicks were 40-1 odds to win the NBA championship on
Bovada.lv before Lin’s run began. Now, they’re down to an 18-1 shot
and conjuring up memories of another New York team.
”A guy like this is great for the game and has drawn a lot of
interest from bettors on the Knicks games also,” Kevin Bradley,
the sports book’s manager, said in a statement. ”I am having
visions of how the public was treating the Giants going into the
Super Bowl being the hottest team in the NFL and costing us a mint,
and right now the Knicks are by far the biggest loser for the
Not everybody is convinced. Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. played
down Lin mania on Twitter, saying that Lin is just doing what
plenty of black players do but is getting more attention because of
his Asian heritage.
And Lin is certain to cool off. It’s one thing to beat teams
such as the Nets and Wizards when they’ve barely had time to learn
your name. It’s another when NBA defenses are prepared to stop
”He’s a marked man now, he’s not going to sneak up on anybody,
and every night’s going to be tough,” D’Antoni said.
Then again, Kobe Bryant had said he wasn’t familiar with Lin’s
game and would have to study up on him. The next night, Lin burned
the Lakers for a career-high 38 points in a nationally televised
That was a huge moment in Taiwan, which Lin’s parents left in
the 1970s. Asia lost its biggest basketball star when Yao Ming
retired last summer, but ratings are up in China, and TV stations
around the continent have rushed to add Knicks games to their
”I like Jeremy Lin (more than Yao Ming) because Yao Ming was
already famous (when he started playing in NBA). For Lin, it’s like
nobody had heard of him before. Kobe gave an interview saying he
did not know who Lin was. So this is truly a rising star,”
Taiwanese university student Zhang Gan-yu said.
Lin, the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or
Taiwanese descent, has been gaining followers on social media and
had the NBA’s top-selling jersey online in the first week it was
available. With Knicks games blacked out to many New Yorkers
because of a local cable dispute, the Knicks held their first
viewing party in Chinatown on Wednesday night.
Their hero had a relatively quiet game, scoring only 10 points
with a career-high 13 assists in a 100-84 victory at home against
Sacramento. Still, when it was over, the adoring Garden fans
chanted ”M-V-P” as he was doing a postgame interview on the
But Lin will have to have lasting success to be just a
short-term phenomenon, even to Asians. Yao was beloved because he
proved to be an All-Star. Yi Jianlian, drafted in 2007 and now with
his fourth NBA team, has seen his popularity wane because he is a
Not to worry, D’Antoni says. Lin’s the real thing.
”He’s going to be a good player,” D’Antoni said.
AP Business Writer Dave Carpenter in Chicago contributed to this
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