14 days ago no one other than some NBA train spotters had heard of Jeremy Lin – a former Harvard player on a team in the Ivy League (equivalent of third division in English soccer) who was plying his trade as a run on player trying to gain a spot in a NBA team – today he’s Americas new underdog representing everything from the “if you get a chance take it” to the face of Asia in the hyped up sports media that is the USA.
This kind of story could only happen in the USA – anywhere else it would not have gained the media and social networking phenomenon that it has there. Twitter explodes every time he plays and scores, he’s on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and even Time magazine. New words in the urban dictionary have appeared– the most common – “Linsanity”
Lin started this season at the low profile Golden State Warriors after coming on in 29 games as a reserve last season , playing 10 minutes per game and scoring 2.6 points per game. Released he was picked up by the Houston Rockets, 12 days before the season started. He lasted two preseason games before being released and picked up by the biggest underachievers in USA sports, The New York Knicks. The Knicks season was entirely consistent with the past decade – they were losing more games than winning – until Jeremy Lin was given a chance to both injuries and frustration. He took it – dominated the game, scored 25 points and the Knicks won. To throw out the beginners luck theory he started the next game – another win – 5 games later including a winning basket with 0.5 seconds to go against the Toronto Raptors the rest and the future will be history.
The NBA had a fractured start to the season with a lockout that has halved the season and caused some dissertation amongst fans. Lin has been the best thing to happen to a sport that is usually on the front page for excessive egos, money and sometimes thuggery (Ron Artest anyone ?) – being Asian, an underdog and intelligent has given a new face to the NBA it has so longed for. His value has soared both on and off court with merchandising opportunities huge – especially in the basketball crazy Asian market.
Could this have happened anywhere else in the world ? I doubt it – the USA is one of those places where ideas can be turned into reality and money easily and quickly. And as for a Lin equivalent in another sport – imagine a rugby player getting into a provincial team – stepping up to a Super 15 franchise then the All Blacks all within a season – and being the first name of the team sheet – extreme example I know however this is the equivalent of what Lin has done. Is Lin sustainable – doubt it – however he and the worldwide media should enjoy the ride while it lasts.