The play of Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has given the NBA and the entire sports world a severe case of Linsanity throughout the past two weeks.
Lin, who was regularly sleeping on his brother’s couch at one point this season, has the city of New York restless during the Knicks current seven game winning streak. Lin is averaging more than 24 points and 9 assists during that time period, starting each of the seven games.
Lin was undrafted coming out of Harvard in 2010 and struggled to find his place in 2011-2012. From being cut by the Warriors and Rockets before the season, to spending time in the NBA’s D-League in January, Lin has finally made his way to the top. Fittingly, Lin now spends his nights on the 20th floor of Trump Tower.
Lin exploded onto the scene, scoring more points in his first four career starts than a handful of NBA legends. In fact, Lin’s 104 points through those contests passed current/future Hall of Famers Allen Iverson (102), Shaquille O’Neal (100) and Michael Jordan (99) for the most points in a player’s first four starts since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.
Lin’s ability to take the ball to the basket and hit clutch jump shots, including a game-winning three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left against the Raptors Tuesday, has players around the league in awe over the “Linsation.”
“It’s crazy! I’m watching Linsanity hoping every shot goes in. Hope I never grow up,” Suns point guard Steve Nash tweeted Tuesday.
Some have had a different reaction to the attention the emerging star is receiving, however. Heavy-weight boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, who has never shied away from controversy, was reluctant to buy into the hype and eager to bring race into the mix.
“Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise,” Mayweather tweeted.
ESPN’s Around the Horn panelist Kevin Blackistone said he had no problem with Mayweather’s tweet, stating skin color was the ingredient for all the conversation.
“We wouldn’t be talking Jeremy Lin if he was another race,” Blackistone said Tuesday. “Black players do this on a regular basis.”
Could someone be more wrong? While a lack of Asian-American stardom in the NBA is undeniable and international reaction has been rampant, this is not about race. If anything, it’s about New York. It’s the fact that Lin won games with stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire on the bench. Maybe Mayweather and Blackistone should consider that Knicks fans were so desperate for consistent point guard play, it would not matter if he looked like Bozo the Clown.
Another area where Blackistone was mistaken was in saying black players, or any player for that matter, have “done this on a regular basis.” No one has done this before – not in such a short time period since entering the starting lineup. The fact that Lin’s 171 points in his last seven games is more than MVP-favorite Lebron James’ total (170) in the same span, should be enough to negate this argument.
To say this is all about race downplays Lin’s unbelievable play and the colorblind reaction from the majority of fans around the world. This story is good for basketball and the success-hungry Knicks, who have seen a 70 percent increase in television ratings since Linsanity began.
Why wouldn’t they want to watch? When #17 is in the lineup for the Knicks, “all they do is Lin.”