Linsanity! Jeremy Lin, The Legend Continues

February 15, 2012 No Comments » Add Consumer Insight
Linsanity! Jeremy Lin, The Legend Continues

TORONTO — The name Tim Tebow was overheard in the visitors dressing room Tuesday night after Jeremy Lin delivered another miracle win for the Knicks, but then Bill Walker decided it didn’t apply.

“He’s doing it in New York, for one thing,’’ Walker told Baron Davis. “And Tebow only does his thing on Sunday.’’

As opposed to the Knicks’ new playmaker, who performs miracles on a daily basis.

The problem now is trying to make sense of Lin and this whole improbable run. After he sent the Knicks home winners with a three-point shot with .5 seconds to play in their 90-87 conquest of the Raptors, he offered an explanation, right out of Tebow’s playbook.

“It’s the all-powerful and all-knowing guy who does miracles,’’ he said.

Whatever is happening here, the Knicks will gladly take it.

SMITH: LIN A LEADER, MAYWEATHER A TWIT

“I can’t really explain it,’’ said Amar’e Stoudemire, who was back in the lineup after being away for eight days due to the death of his older brother, Hazell. “I was celebrating like we had won the championship.”

This isn’t June and the Knicks are still not even a .500 team. But they won their sixth straight game with Lin taking over Mike D’Antoni’s backcourt, and the NBA’s best story of the year is only getting better.

If not more amazing by the day.

Wednesday night, Lin brings his “Star is Born” production back to the Garden when the Knicks play Sacramento. It will be hard to top this night, but who’s to say Lin won’t do that?

On the same Air Canada Centre court where Kobe Bryant hit the game-winner on Sunday, Lin matched it to cap his 12-point fourth quarter. And he even out-did Kobe in one department, playing before a sellout crowd of 20,092, while the Lakers didn’t even sell out for one of the rare times in this sports-crazy city.

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That’s Linsanity, if nothing else is.

The last person who was surprised by Lin’s performance was Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who coached him when he was a Mavericks assistant and Lin was part of Dallas’ summer-league team in 2010.

Beforehand, Casey raved about Lin’s skills as a one-on-one player and how he is filling the “Steve Nash role — finding people.’’

He said he had worked up the kind of defensive game plan that he’d bring to an arena against any other quality playmaker. So Lin wasn’t exactly overlooked by the Raptors, who were undone by their own mistakes before Lin hoisted his big shot.

“It should not have come to that play,’’ Casey said afterward. “We had so many bonehead plays to get to that play and to make that play relevant.

“We should have taken care of business before that.”

But the Knicks beat them to it. They finally took Lin off Jose Calderon and assigned Iman Shumpert to stop the Raptors’ best shooter, who had 25 points through three quarters. Shumpert didn’t allow Calderon one point in the fourth and came away with the biggest steal of the night and a monster dunk when the Knicks were rallying.

Then when the Knicks needed the clutch shots to raise their record to 14-15, it was the undrafted Lin, the player who was waived by Golden State and Houston, the player who was nearly cut by the Knicks, who pulled them through.

“I’m a fan of Tebow,” he said. “I don’t know if our stories are necessarily comparable.”

They’re not, unless you think that Harvard is to college basketball as Florida is to college football.

Raptors executive VP and former Nets GM Ed Stefanski is an Ivy Leaguer himself, out of Penn, where he played for the great Chuck Daly. He might pay more attention to his old league than most general managers.

“Sure, I remember Lin at Harvard,” Stefanski said. “He was OK. Maybe a second-rounder. I’ve never seen anybody come out of the blue like this. What a great story for the NBA.”

You know the story by now of how Lin came to New York and didn’t get his shot until D’Antoni had exhausted all of his options at point guard.

From when it all started against the Nets at the Garden 10 days ago until now, it’s reached the point where D’Antoni is perfectly fine with Lin standing alone at the top of the key and hoisting up the biggest shot of the night. Although he did have to admit, reflecting on the game-winner, “There was plenty of doubt.”

Not anymore.

“He’s a marked man now,’’ D’Antoni said. “He won’t sneak up on anybody anymore.”

Everybody knows what Jeremy Lin can do. It’s just hard to believe he’s actually doing it.

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