A Linstant Celebrity In New York

New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin

New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin items on sale. AP / Frank Franklin II photo

It’s hard to believe but two weeks ago you probably never heard of Jeremy Lin. Even Lin himself in his wildest flights of fancy could not have conjured up his first five starts in the NBA. Lin merely led the Knicks to another win, scoring 27 points against the Toronto Raptors including the winning trey with half a second left. He was averaging 27 points, the Knicks were on a six-game win streak and the Harvard grad, who had been cut by the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors and nearly axed by the Knicks, is now the buzz of the NBA.

It is the best start by any player since the NBA/ABA merger. As commissioner David Stern said, “This is unprecedented in our league, but I’m very happy for the NBA and for the Knicks.”

In one week, the stock price of Madison Square Garden went up 9.2 percent. Jersey sales for the Knicks rose 3,000 percent. They cannot keep Lin jerseys or T-shirts in stock. He is being compared to Tim Tebow, but as Lin says, “I admire who Tim Tebow is and what he’s done, but our stories are not necessarily comparable.”

Quite right. Tebow was a high school football star who chose the Florida Gators and won two national championships and the Heisman Trophy. Lin played for the Harvard Crimson, where he had all the visibility of the crew and squash teams.

Tebow was a controversial first round pick; there was no controversy when Lin went undrafted. And while Tebow may never become a bona fide NFL passer, nobody questions whether Lin has the requisite skill set to play point guard in the NBA. But this run, including the 38 points and a win over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers is, well, Linsanity.

When Carmelo Anthony comes back, the production will go down, but that won’t keep Jeremy Lin from being a Madison Avenue monster. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s the first Asian-American point guard in NBA history.

And don’t expect Lin to get pumped up and start trash talking or tweeting about his prowess or exploits. It’s all about team and winning.

As former Knicks coach and current NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy says, “It’s very unusual for NBA players to enjoy anyone’s success other than their own. But Jeremy gives other players the credit, and the ball when they’re open. That’s why his teammates love him.”

And the Knicks are winning, and New York fans love him, too. When Lin was asked if he could believe what was happening to him, he paused and said “No.”

Everybody laughed.

He then added, “But I believe in an all-knowing and all-powerful God, and he does miracles.”

That’s where he’s most like Tim Tebow.