Understanding Linsanity

Why we're so taken with the Knicks' rookie point guard.

I’m a few minutes early for my dinner last night with some clients at Caesar’s Palace. Tempted to throw a few bucks down on a blackjack table, instead I look up at one of the TVs to see that NY Knicks’ guard Jeremy Lin has done it again. The guy continues to amaze.

A few guys next to me also marvel in amazement at the performance of this previously unknown kid.

Why is the sports’ world buzzing so much about this guy? Let’s explore the phenomenon that’s come to be known as Linsanity.

The Who

Floyd Mayweather Jr. thinks that it’s exclusively because of his ethnicity. While not politically correct, that’s certainly part of it. There just aren’t too many Asians in the NBA, much less stars who hit game-winning shots on a regular basis. Tiger woods made similar waves in 1997 because golf had previously been a white man’s game. But that’s not all of the explanation.

It doesn’t hurt that Lin went to Harvard. That adds to his mystique. Harvard hasn’t exactly produced top-flight NBA talent.

The What

Lin is doing things previously not done by historically great players. He scored more points in his first four career starts than anyone, including Michael Jordan. Yes, that one. But that still doesn’t explain the Lin Factor. And let’s not forget that sport sites can track stats better than ever.

The Where

The other piece of the Lin puzzle is New York. Lin is not scoring 20-plus points per game while playing in relatively low-key cities like Portland or Memphis. He’s in the Big Apple–and that still matters. Yes, the world is flat, but that doesn’t mean that the media treats all cities and markets as equal.

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1 Comment

  1. Mark

    It cannot be denied that ethnicity has certainly factored into his popularity.    Just look to the fact that millions of Chinese nationals that couldn’t give a darn about the NBA are now watching the Knicks each evening.     The NY Times wrote an article today that said that Lin shirts are sold out all over China (even the Pirated shirts).      But, that’s a small part of why I’ve been watching.     For me, it’ all about the kid that was sleeping on his brothers couch to save a few bucks.    The kid that was lucky enough to be the low man on a team on a losing streak desperate for a point guard.     He’s certainly made the most of the opportunity.      I just hope his body can stand up to the pounding he’s been getting each night.     They’re killing him on those drives to the basket.      

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