Saturday 18 February 2012

Linsanity: The rise of Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin? Jeremy who you're probably asking.

For those of you who don't know, Jeremy Lin is an American basketball player who up until 2 weeks ago nobody had heard of.

With the New York Knicks missing two of their star players, Lin has been drafted in to start games for the first time in his NBA career. Since then he's managed to score more points in his first 5 games then any other player in the history of the NBA. He's led the Knicks to an 8 game winning streak, which included beating the reigning NBA champions the Dallas Mavericks!

He's become an overnight superstar - they're calling it Linsanity!

Jeremy Lin running the show against the Lakers

The US Media has gone mad for this story, and it's spreading across the world, particulary in China where Lin's ancestory is from.

So just what is it that makes this story so special?

Well it's all about the back story.

Jeremy Lin is the first Chinese/American to play in the NBA. He's a Harvard graduate, the first Harvard graduate to play in the NBA since the 1950's - and he's a devout christian.

Before joining the Knicks, Lin had been with the LA Clippers and Huston Rockets but they let him go because they didn't think he was good enough. This theme of rejection and being overlooked is a big part of the story.

Today everyone's asking the same question: Why did nobody realise just how good he was?

The first and most obvious answer people are coming up with, is that as a Chinese/American Lin faced a number of steroetypes and prejudices. People don't associate Americans of Chinese descent playing basketball.

Then there's his Ivy League background. Graduates from Harvard just don't go on to play in the NBA. Add to this his Christian faith and his overall struggle for recognition of his talents, it's easy to see how this story of the underdog breaking down stereotypes and assumptions on race and education is proving to be so appealling to people.

What's really caught my attention though, is how people want to attach added meaning to the story. There's the question about our assumptions on race, education, faith, but also how Lin and his less fashionable teamates have turned the Knick's season around, whilst the so called star players weren't available to play.

During the last week, I've read the following articles which give you an illustration on how people are trying to find deeper meaning to 'Linsanity'.

'Just Lin, Baby! 10 Lessons Jeremy Lin Can Teach Us Before We Go To Work Monday Morning' A guide on how the Jeremy Lin story can help people make a sucess of their careers.

After that I found this piece on the American journalism website, Poynter: 3 things journalists can learn from ‘Linsanity’.

Then last Friday in the London Evening Standard paper they had this article: America must accept the true power of China: Looking at how Lin's rise to prominence was another example of China's growing political and cultural power!

I'm not sure about that, but again it shows how people want to attach greater meaning to one athlete and sport in general.

So where does Linsanity go from here? Is Jeremy Lin just a flash in the pan or is he the next NBA superstar?

The next big question is this: Athough basketball is a team game, it's also a very individualistic sport. Every team has its one or maybe two 'star' players who dominate the team. For the New York Knicks that star player is Carmelo Anthony.

He's been out injured and it's this that's given Jeremy Lin his chance to shine. With Carmelo Anthony coming back from injury how is this going to affect Lin's game? How will it impact on the Knick's overall game plan and the rest of their season? So many questions.

I think I've become slightly obssessed with this story in recent weeks, and I can see it's going to keep me hooked for the rest of the NBA season.

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