The Taiwanese/Chinese-American managed an amazing 38 points in last Friday’s 92-85 win over the LA Lakers at Madison Square Garden – outscoring Kobe Bryant by four points – and fans have still not stopped talking about it
The thing is, he has only had four starts. A month ago, nobody knew who he was, but an amazing series of performances for the Knicks has put him in the headlines.
And the stats are remarkable. The Harvard graduate has already scored 109 points in his four games, the most that any player has managed since the NBA merged with the old American Basketball Association in the 1976-77 season.
With Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan being the next names on the list, you can understand the excitement.
The 23 year-old is the only player to have scored over 20 points in each of his first four starts and grabbed seven assists.
“I always told myself coming into this year I wanted to be able to establish myself in the rotation, and not be a 12th or 15th guy on the team,” Lin, whose parent emigrated to the United States in the 1970s, said after the LA win. “That's what I felt I could do.”
He has done that and then some. The challenge for coach Mike D’Antoni is how to keep Lin’s feet on the ground while at the same time lowering expectations that are rising higher than the Empire State building.
“We liked what we saw but weren't ready to give him the keys to the car,” the coach said.
Now that he’s already a star, it remains to be seen how Lin will handle his new found fame.
There’s already talk of marketing possibilities due to Lin’s Asian heritage and the fact that basketball is a big deal in China.
“There's no question brands will be interested in Jeremy Lin,” Jeremy Walker, head of sports marketing and branded entertainment for Golin Harris, told Reuters.“You only have to look at what Yao Ming has done not just for the NBA, but for brands that he represents both in the States and in China.”
Still, the backlash already seems to have started. Champion boxer Floyd Mayweather didn’t sound too impressed as he argued on Twitter:
“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.”
Seems a little harsh. But for now, Mayweather’s is a lone voice as America is gripped by Linsanity.