Linsanity? NBA's first Asian-American is the talk of NYC

Linsanity? The red-hot performance of Harvard grad Jeremy Lin, the fist Asian-American NBA player, is generating a 'Linsanity' buzz among fans, basketball players and experts.

Eric Miller/Reuters/File
New York Knicks' guard Jeremy Lin shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves' center Nikola Pekovic in Minneapolis Saturday.

Just two weeks ago, Jeremy Lin was crashing on his brother's couch on New York’s Lower East Side, only to find himself homeless when his brother threw a party.  

But he can now put such worries behind him since the New York Knicks have guaranteed his $800,000 contract until the end of the season.

Two weeks after his first phenomenal performance – when he had 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists – Lin continues to fascinate NBA fans and players while the nation’s basketball experts try to analyze his surprising emergence into the NBA elite.

The 23-year-old Californian has led the Knicks to a five-game winning streak, while the franchise’s superstars, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire have mostly been unable to play.

"He's a very smart point guard, [something] that I was kind of searching for," said Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, to ESPN. "He did it and can continue to do it. It's put everybody back in the role where they feel comfortable and are producing."

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Until recently Lin was simply warming the benches of the Golden State, the Houston Rockets, and the New York Knicks.  But everything changed in a night.  According to the NBA official website, Lin’s cumulative “109 points over his first four career starts are the most by any player since 1976-77.”  Lin is also the first player in the league’s history to score at least 20 points and have seven assists in every one of his first four starts.

How does Lin explain his sudden success? "I felt I needed to prove I can play in this league. But I've surrendered that to God. I'm not in a battle with what everybody else thinks anymore," he told the San Jose Mercury News.

The New York Knicks point guard appears, at times, overwhelmed by all the attention that he is getting. "Things are changing so much and everyone wants to talk to me and my family," said Lin, a Harvard economics graduate. "We're very low-key people and private people, so sometimes it's a little tough."

Lin's consecutive stellar performances earned him NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week, an honor that neither Amare Stoudemire nor Carmelo Anthony have achieved this season.  His teammates are also participating in the ongoing "Linsanity" that has swept the country.

"I love it. I love it. It's crazy. Everywhere you go, it's Lin, Lin, Lin, Lin. I'm enjoying it….The underdog story -- a guy who's been sent down to the D-League numerous times and then to actually come back and give New York a spark, give our team a spark,” Anthony told ESPN.

“Only in New York would he become an international icon over night. He was about to get cut and he comes out and has a phenomenal week. It's those Cinderella stories, man, that really capture the fans and also the media,” Stoudemire said about Lin.

Not all the players seem to participate in the Lin-mania. When Kobe Bryant was asked about Lin the day before the Lakers game against the Knicks he did not sound impressed.   

“I know who he is, but I really don't know what's going on too much about him. I don't even know what he's done. I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I'll take a look at [the game film] tonight, though," ESPN reports.

However, Bryant got some first-hand experience the next day, when Lin led his team to a 92-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring a career-high 38 points and seven assists.

With both Stoudemire and Anthony returning to the Knicks lineup, fans are eager to see how Mike D'Antoni exploits his team's present momentum – and whether he can save his own job.

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