Sports
3:09 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Knicks Star Jeremy Lin Capture's Big Apple's Heart

Originally published on Thu February 16, 2012 10:26 am

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.

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."

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."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Linsanity continues. Last night, the NBA's New York Knicks won their seventh game in a row, defeating the visiting Sacramento Kings. And once again it was point guard Jeremy Lin who led the charge.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASKETBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: (Unintelligible) Lin gets it. (Unintelligible) play with the left hand.

MONTAGNE: In the space of 10 days, the Asian-American Lin has gone from an unknown benchwarmer to a high-scoring basketball phenom.

NPR's Margot Adler spoke to some fans to see what the excitement was all about.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: I confess, I never heard of Jeremy Lin until three days ago. Yet watching this Taiwanese-American from Harvard during the last quarter of the Knicks game a couple of days ago, 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 number 17. New Yorker Bruce Haymes said this is a city where big dreams happen.

BRUCE HAYMES: 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.

ADLER: So you came in to get...

HAYMES: I came here to get a T-shirt for my eight-year-old son.

ADLER: And it didn't work, right?

HAYMES: It's sold out.

ADLER: There were no smalls or mediums. 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. Oneal Ho is also from Taiwan.

ONEAL HO: The last day, he made a game-winning three-pointer, I just jumped off of my couch. My Facebook is, like, every time when Jeremy Lin has a game, my Facebook is all about him. So, I'm looking for his jersey and I'm going to a game.

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

Are you all Lin fans? Are you all excited? Are you going to the game?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Yeah.

ADLER: Damir Hot said he was a Sacramento fan, but he was still rooting for Lin.

DAMIR HOT: You don't see this. I mean, I've been following basketball since as long as I've been living. You don't see this. Look at that smile on my face. See that smile? I just can't wait to see him play.

ADLER: And 12-year-old Zach Allen from Oceanside, Long Island, held up a Jeremy Lin towel and said what he liked was...

ZACH ALLEN: His style. I like how he doesn't, like, dunk that much and he's not cocky.

ADLER: OK. There's more media here than anywhere else, and Lin's a great story. First, a rare Asian-American, first Harvard grad in the NBA since the 1950s, 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. Fan Jason Kimi.

JASON KIMI: Madison Square Garden is the most famous arena in the world. And it's been a little bit shameful that we've had a team like this for the last 10 years. Finally, we're showing everybody in the whole world what New York's all about.

ADLER: Outside the entrance, Casey Dinkin stood with her guitar. A life-long Knicks fan, she was hoping that playing some songs might gain her a ticket.

You have any songs about Lin? I can make one up on the spot, she said.

CASEY DINKIN: (Singing) Scoring so many points per game and no one knew your name. We're going to win a championship now, thanks to you. Jeremy Lin, we've been waiting for someone like you.

ADLER: 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.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.