Amid all the craziness of the New York Giants winning Super Bowl 46, something exciting was happening in Madison Square Garden. An undrafted player out of Harvard called Jeremy Lin was putting on a show. Frankly speaking, basketball is not my favorite sport. I’m a diehard football fan through and through and I thought nothing could tear me away from the excitement of my victorious team rolling down the Canyon of Heroes. But as I checked my Twitter feed Monday night, I noticed an interesting trending topic: #Linsanity. I also happen to follow a lot of New York sports fans and they all were talking about this Asian kid. Spike Lee, the constant sideline presence, tweeted Jeremy “Enter the Dragon” Lin, coining yet another nickname. For this individual player to take headlines away from a team that just won perhaps the biggest game ever in perhaps the greatest city ever was truly something special.
I may not know a lot of the technical aspects of the game, but I know that Lin can play. Only in the NBA can an Asian-American Harvard grad’s success shock everyone. Lin scored a career-high 25 against New Jersey on Saturday, and added seven assists and five boards. Two nights later, against the Utah Jazz, he got his first career start and played all but three minutes in the game. Another game, another new career high: 28 points, with eight assists and eight turnovers. Last night he got his first double-double with 23 points and 10 assists against the Washington Wizards. You could almost taste the excitement erupting from a city already drunk with it.
It has been a wonder to watch how we, the disbelieving yet adoring public, react to him. The fans are really careful to not talk too much about him; as if no one can truly fawn over “Linsanity” yet because the mere mention of his name might jinx the whole thing and bring his success to a startling halt. I’ve never seen a fan base think so little of and still so much of a single player before.
There is a legitimate argument to be made, though, that Jeremy Lin is exactly what no Knicks fan wants to call him: A very good and possibly long-term team point guard. Apologies for the possible jinx, New York, but it’s true. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there that show Lin beating the likes of John Wall, number one pick in the NBA draft a couple years ago. But aside from his very good fundamentals, and aside from the gape-mouthed Knick fans, Lin and all of the hype bubbling around him has been very fun to watch for a very simple reason: He is having the best time ever.
He’s looked positively at ease on the Garden floor, but we’re reminded that none of this makes sense, really, every time he breaks character to smile disbelievingly at his own play. While playing the Jazz, Lin received the ball wide-open and sunk a three-pointer just as the shot clock’s buzzer sounded. It was his 26th point of the game—breaking his two-day-old career high—and as he backpedaled down the court for Utah’s next possession, he attempted a cool, winking nod. It lasted for about a second, and then he smiled like a kid and stuck out a blue Gatorade-stained tongue.
It was like he didn’t believe it himself, like he didn’t know exactly how to react. Maybe neither do we.