Knicks Star Jeremy Lin Captures Big Apple's Heart

Jeremy Lin items are for sale before the basketball game between Lin's New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in New York. i i

hide captionJeremy Lin items are for sale before the basketball game between Lin's New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in New York.

Frank Franklin II/AP
Jeremy Lin items are for sale before the basketball game between Lin's New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in New York.

Jeremy Lin items are for sale before the basketball game between Lin's New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in New York.

Frank Franklin II/AP

The New York Knicks have won seven games in a row after struggling all season — and some would say they've struggled for years.

Point guard Jeremy Lin, the man few knew a week and a half ago, scored a 3-pointer in the last seconds to win Tuesday's game against Toronto. Wednesday night, Linsanity returned to New York City and Madison Square Garden.

Comparing Phenoms

I confess, I had never heard of Jeremy Lin until three days ago. Yet watching this Taiwanese-American from Harvard during the last quarter of the Knicks game, I, like everyone else, was blown away.

Outside the NBA store on Fifth Avenue, people were walking in and out to buy the top-selling jersey since Saturday: Lin's No. 17.

New Yorker Bruce Haymes said this is a city where big dreams happen.

"To have someone that was just off everyone's radar is just so unusual here. This kind of, like, from nowhere to something big, just feels real New York," he said.

Haymes came into the store for a shirt for his 8-year-old son, but the smalls and mediums had sold out.

Many Asians entered the store, many from Taiwan ecstatic about this first Taiwanese-American to play for the NBA. A 17-year-old Taiwanese exchange student said he cried the first time he saw Lin play.

"The last day, he made a game-winning 3-pointer, I jumped off my couch," said Oneal Ho, who is also from Taiwan. "My Facebook is like, every time time when Jeremy Lin has a game, my Facebook is all about him, so I am looking for his jersey and I am going to a game."

Jeremy and Zach Allen, fans of basketball player Jeremy Lin, attend the Knicks game Wednesday. The 16- and 12-year-old are from Oceanside, Long Island. i i

hide captionJeremy and Zach Allen, fans of basketball player Jeremy Lin, attend the Knicks game Wednesday. The 16- and 12-year-old are from Oceanside, Long Island.

Margot Adler/NPR
Jeremy and Zach Allen, fans of basketball player Jeremy Lin, attend the Knicks game Wednesday. The 16- and 12-year-old are from Oceanside, Long Island.

Jeremy and Zach Allen, fans of basketball player Jeremy Lin, attend the Knicks game Wednesday. The 16- and 12-year-old are from Oceanside, Long Island.

Margot Adler/NPR

As crowds of people entered Madison Square Garden, excitement mounted.

Damir Hot is a Sacramento fan but said he's still rooting for Lin. "I have been following basketball since as long as I have been living. You don't see this," he said. "Look at the smile on my face. See that smile? I just can't wait to see him play."

Twelve-year-old Zach Allen of Oceanside, Long Island, held up a Lin towel and said he likes Lin's style: "I like how he doesn't dunk that much and he's not cocky."

There's more media here than anywhere else, and Lin is a great story: a rare Asian-American and Harvard grad in the NBA, unnoticed, dropped from two teams. But something else is going on in this city with all this "Linsanity," "Divine Lintervention" and so forth.

There's a wistfulness that suddenly, out of nothing comes something; a team that was nowhere comes into the light.

"Madison Square Garden is the most famous arena in the world, and it has been a little bit shameful that we have had a team like this for the last 10 years," said fan Jason Kimi. "Finally we are showing everybody in the whole world what New York is all about."

Outside the entrance, Casey Dinkin stood with her guitar. A lifelong Knicks fan, she was hoping that playing some songs might gain her a ticket. She even made up a song about Lin.

"Scoring so many points per game, and no one knew your name," she sang. "We are going to win a championship now, thanks to you. Jeremy Lin, we have been waiting for someone like you."

As sports blogger Bryan Harvey wrote the other day: "In a world of infinite data and endless observation, Lin has now broadsided us like an unseen torpedo, fired from a submarine we didn't even know existed."

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