Sure, LeBron James won his first title in Miami this year. But that was inevitable. Jeremy Lin’s rise, by contrast, was unforgettable.
It started on a quiet Saturday night, with New York City’s attention focused on the football Giants, who were playing in the Super Bowl the next day. The struggling New York Knicks needed a point guard, and their options were now down to a young benchwarmer from Harvard, Jeremy Lin, who had already been cut by two NBA teams. Lin scored 25 points off the bench in New York’s 99-92 win over New Jersey. From there, Linsanity exploded: he averaged 27.2 points per game in his first five starts, a new NBA record. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, on national television, Lin scored 38 points, out dueling Kobe Bryant himself. At Toronto four nights later, Lin’s rainbow three, from the top of the key, with under a second left gave New York a 90-87 win. The Knicks won seven straight games with Lin as the primary point, and nine out of 11. He made the cover of TIME, and Sports Illustrated – twice. As the first Asian-American player to thrive in the NBA, Lin was a global sensation.
Not surprisingly Linsanity did soon subside: the Knicks struggled after the All-Star break, NBA defenses started to wise up to Lin’s tricks, and a torn meniscus ended his season prematurely in March. The Knicks, unconvinced that Lin’s stardom could last, declined to match his three-year, $25.1 million free-agent offer from the Houston Rockets this summer.
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