It’s been incredible watching the rise to prominence of Jeremy Lin, the star guard of the New York Knicks, whose first eight games as a starter has him ahead of three Hall-of-Fame point guards (Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson and John Stockton) by comparison in their first eight starts.
The New York Knicks have been a non-story for over 10 years in New York. But suddenly, thanks to Lin’s emergence, his story has grabbed the nation and knocked the Super Bowl Champion Giants off the front pages.
Lin is the first graduate of Harvard to star in the NBA in 58 years. Lin is Asian American, and what he has done has been nothing short of remarkable. In his first four games he scored 109 points, all wins, passing Alan Iverson’s mark of 101. That’s more than any player since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.
Two weeks ago the Knicks were 8-15 with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony both out of the lineup. Lin gets his first career start, and like magic the Knicks are 16-16 and Anthony is still out.
The Knicks last year, in a blockbuster deal, traded four players to Denver for All-Star forward Anthony. But it is Lin at point guard and his dominant play that has made the difference in the sudden emergence of NBA basketball life on Broadway for the Knicks.
Lin has played big minutes and made big shots and plays night after night. Sunday he scored 28 points and had a career-high 14 assists and five steals in a comeback win on national TV, 104-97 over the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks. Lin’s heroics ended the Dallas six-game win streak. He had another game in which he scored 38 points with seven assists in a win against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Am I a believer in Lin? Absolutely! I was at Target Center on Feb. 11 when Lin scored 20 points and had eight assists, including the game-winning free throw with 4.9 seconds left, to beat the Timberwolves and Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio 100-98. There were 20,100 fans in attendance, the fourth-largest crowd in Minnesota franchise history.
Unfortunately, the Lin story has not all been good. After he led the Knicks to their eighth-straight win over Sacramento, Madison Square Garden (MSG), the mega-rich sports TV network that carries many of the Knicks’ games, put their camera on a large sign in the stands of a large broken fortune cookie with Lin’s head inserted with the note “The Knicks Good Fortune.”
It angered the Asian community. It again shows us all during this Black History Month how shortsighted, stupid and racist some people are. The MSG directors and producers had to know that shot was inappropriate long before the TV director said, “Go to that shot, camera two!” It was not a joke, and it was not funny.
Friday, after the Knicks lost their first game with Lin starting to New Orleans (Lin had nine turnovers in the loss), ESPN, the so-called “Sports Leader,” allowed an announcer on ESPN News and an ESPN Mobile magazine editor to use the headline “Chink in the Armor.” ESPN has subsequently issued an apology, fired the news employee and suspended the TV anchor for 30 days.
“We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin,” ran the notice. “His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian American community, including the Asian American employees at ESPN.” Linsanity obviously has gone overboard and reminds us all just how small some of us can be to belittle, embarrass and hurt innocent people during this great time of celebration and accomplishment.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.