“Linsanity” overtakes New York

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New York quickly catches on to “Linsanity” with the sparks caused by Jeremy Lin, the first American-born Taiwanese or Chinese player in the NBA.

The Harvard graduate has quickly become the newest basketball sensation playing for the New York Knicks.

Interestingly, the Asian-American has remained undrafted in a league that has little interest in Asian-Americans. For example, in 2010, none of the teams drafted him, with two teams cutting him in December, just prior to the Knicks picking him up.

Lin’s contract, estimated to be worth almost $800,000, has remained unguaranteed even up until Tuesday. This was likely the reason why the 23-year-old player has spent the past six weeks sleeping in the couch of his brother Josh’s one-bedroom apartment in the Lower East Side.

Josh Lin is a dental student at New York University who was cheerful about lending out his couch, considering Jeremy’s awaiting clarity and security in his career. Of course, it seems that Josh can reclaim his living room in a short time.

This distinctive existence in the NBA, albeit mostly transient, has taken a quite sudden turn in the last few days for Jeremy Lin.

When the Knicks played against the Nets on Saturday, Lin came off the bench and spurred the team to a win of 99-92 at Madison Square Garden. He scored a career high of 25 points and 7 assists. In the game two nights later, he had his first NBA start, giving the team 28 points and 8 assists for a victory of 99-88 against the Utah Jazz.

Fans of the Knicks are quick to pick up on this new sensation. They have since begun serenading the Asian-American with chants of “M.V.P.!” and “Je-re-my!” The franchise also uses his likeness to spur ticket sales, while coaches and teammates are also spilling over with praises and accolades.

As more games come along, more precision passes and clever drives to the baskets have raised expectations for Lin, giving the Knicks an obviously altered fate. The term “Linsanity” seemed to have come up first on Twitter, as basketball enthusiasts have come to know this turn of events.

The 6-foot-3-inch Lin had not even been part of the point-guard rotation of the Knicks two weeks ago, even though the team had a lack of talent for the position. He had also been allowed to play sparingly in some games, but even then, nobody had a clue what he could do.

But the 25 points on Saturday had Lin setting an NBA score record for a Harvard-originated player. He also became the first player in over 30 years to score 28 points and 8 assist in a first NBA start, the last being Isaiah Thomas in October 1981. Thomas had been the Hall of Fame point guard of the Detroit Pistons.

“I don’t think anyone saw this coming, including myself,” Lin said after Monday’s game.

Lin is not only the first American-born player who was of Chinese or Taiwanese descent in the NBA, but he is also the fourth Asian-American in the history of the league. His parents, Gie-Ming and Shirley, both engineers, migrated from Taiwan in the 1970s to the United States.

“He’s just kind of like underdog,” Lin’s mother Shirley said, “but he works hard.”

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