HOW do you describe the ‘Linsanity’ phenom that swept the globe in February 2012? Do you delve into the backstory of Jeremy Lin, a Harvard graduate who was close to being out of the league? Do you describe how woeful the Knicks which led to him getting an opportunity to see the court? Or do you expand on the unprecedented birth of an overnight sensation who single-handedly captured the attention of every sports fan on the planet? Whatever way you look at it, five years on Linsanity is still hard to wrap your head around.
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AS mentioned above Jeremy Lin went to Harvard, going undrafted after his four-year career where he averaged 12.9 points and 3.5 assists per game. He signed a two year deal with his hometown Golden State Warriors prior to the 2010-11 season but was mainly a bench warmer behind the likes of Monta Ellis and Steph Curry. Upon his release from the Warriors, he was signed and waived by the Houston Rockets, before finding his way onto the Knicks roster during the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12. Lin was actually very, VERY close to being cut by the team after spending time with their D-League affiliate and struggling to make an impact. Everything changed on February 4 against the New Jersey Nets though.
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DESPERATE for help at the guard position and with the team struggling to find a win, coach D’Antoni turned to Lin for help despite Lin only having played 55 total minutes from New York’s first 23 games. He exploded onto the scene with 25 points and seven assists in a 99-92 win and followed that performance with 28 points and eight assists against the Utah Jazz in his first career start two nights later. The show didn’t stop there with Lin leading the Knicks on a seven-game winning streak, which included a game-winning three with just a second left against the Raptors in a game where he dished out a then career-high 11 assists. The highlight of his epic stretch of games was easily his performance against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at MSG though. Lin scored a career-high 38, earning a ton of praise from the Lakers great, who had gone on record saying he didn’t really know who Lin was or what he had been doing. After that night, he clearly would remember his name.
KOBE wasn’t the only one who noticed Lin’s overnight rise to fame. Past and present NBA greats were quick to praise Lin, with Forbes, TIME magazine, Associated Press, and countless other prestigious media outlets all running stories on the guards’ success. Then-commissioner David Stern said, “I haven’t done a computation, but it’s fair to say that no player has created the interest and the frenzy in this short period of time, in any sport, that I’m aware of like Jeremy Lin has”. He had the best selling jersey in the NBA through the months of February and March and over a twelve month period starting at Lin’s stellar play his jersey was the 2nd most popular, ranking just behind Derrick Rose, the previous year’s MVP. Lin helped to boost team sales by 3000% becoming the most popular player in the league, with star teammates Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire’s jerseys placed on the sales rack instead of in the shop window. He turned down potential millions of dollars in sponsorship deals, opting to focus mainly on basketball, but still was endorsed by the likes of Nike and Adidas since. People were forced to pay attention regardless of whether they were an avid NBA goer or just a casual basketball enthusiast. Over a fortnight-long period, there was no name bigger in sports that Jeremy Lin.
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FAST forward to today and Jeremy Lin is still contributing in the NBA, albeit not at the same elite level he did for a short period of time as a Knick. At seasons end in 2012, Lin opted to sign with the Houston Rockets and has since spent time with the Lakers, Hornets and now the Brooklyn Nets. He has honourable averages of 12.3 points and 4.5 assists over the past four seasons, which have been slightly interrupted by injury. The book hasn’t closed on the Jeremy Lin story but he hasn’t recaptured the same level of hype as he did over the early February time as a New York Knick. Then again no other sportsperson has reached that level of stardom as quickly as Lin did, and they may never do so.
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