Jeremy Lin

NBA fans should get used to the image of the ball in Lin's hands for the duration. Photo courtesy Chris Chambers/Getty Images North America

It’s become the most talked about story in all of sports in the past week, and with finishes like what happened on Valentine’s Day, it’s a sports story everyone should know about. Jeremy Lin, the out-of-nowhere, overnight celebrity has people that had written off the NBA altogether now tuning in to see the Knicks play. When non-local radio stations preview the games going on, they go out of their way to tell you who New York is playing.

Any way you slice it, the NBA has a new superstar.

Lin’s jersey is now currently the most purchased NBA jersey. Let me reiterate that:  Jeremy Lin, the Asian-American point guard that just two weeks ago was literally the last person on the 8-15 Knick’s bench, is having his jersey purchased more often than Kobe, LeBron, and Durant. Not only that, but he has started to make headlines in the mainstream media, a point that some, including myself, would consider a litmus test for just how big a sports story has become.

This is not to say Lin is not deserving of such hype. In the six games he has started since ‘Linsanity’ broke out, Jeremy Lin has averaged 27 points per game. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the Knicks are 6-0 in those games. Oh yeah, and during most of those games, the Knicks were without Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.

To put it into a metaphor in other sports: imagine the Colts did make the playoffs without Manning. Imagine Dan Orlovsky threw for three thousand yards and 30 touchdowns. Imagine more people were buying Dan Orlovsky’s jersey than Drew Brees or Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. That is what we are
talking about here. There’s a reason the term coined for the hype Jeremy Lin is causing is a pun off the word “insanity”. That’s exactly what it comes down to when trying to explain what is going on in New York.

Now people are going to want to tell you there is a precedent for this. They’ll try and argue that this is just the sequel to ‘Tebowmania’. I cannot stress this more: This is nothing like ‘Tebowmania’. The winning streaks Lin and Tebow lead their teams through is the starting and ending point of the valid comparisons.

Love him or hate him, Tim Tebow was one of the greatest college athletes of all time. Tim Tebow was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. People knew who Tim Tebow was ever before he donned a jersey for a professional team.


Lin has the Knicks in high spirits with 6 wins in a row. Photo courtesy Rob Carr/Getty Images North America

Jeremy Lin came completely out of nowhere. He was a D-League graduate that rose to become an NBA nobody that had a better chance of being known by his high school blogging name (chink balla 88) than the one on the back of his jersey. He would tweet facetiously that the security at Madison Square Garden, the HOME of the team he played on, didn’t believe he was a Knick.

Please stop me if any of this sounds vaguely like Tim Tebow.

Jeremy Lin isn’t Tim Tebow, he’s Rudy Ruettiger. He is a living, breathing microcosm of the underdog spirit. We’re talking about the NBA, a league where people joke about how much of a minority white players are. Jeremy Lin is Asian; he might as well be Klingon in the eyes of the NBA. And, yes, his race does play a role in why everyone can’t get enough of his story.

But despite claims made to the contrary by Floyd Mayweather and countless sports media talking heads, being Asian is not the only reason we, as a sports society, are eating this up. This is a great story because of the sum of its parts: the fact that he’s Asian, the fact that he’s a Harvard grad with a degree in Economics, the fact that several teams (including bad teams like the Wizards) thought he wasn’t good enough. For all these reasons, and more, America loves Jeremy Lin.

But if there is one thing I take issue with in the massive feel-good story that is Jeremy Lin, it is the word the phrase used to describe his hype is a pun of: insanity. As in foolishness, madness, and delusion. As in lunacy, absurdness, and dementia. None of these words fit Jeremy Lin. He isn’t a flavor of the week nor is he some fad we’re all going to laugh about ten years from now. Jeremy Lin is everything we want the world of sports to be. We refuse to believe that because it hasn’t been. It hasn’t been for a very, very long time. Until now. Until Lin.

NOTE: This article is an updated version of an article on SportsHead. To read the original article and others click here.

Follow Bryan Lienesch on Twitter! @bclienesch
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