Basketball: Linsanity! Unfancied Harvard graduate is talk of NBA

Will Dean witnesses the birth of a star

Jeremy Lin is a 6ft 3in NBA superstar. While at high school he captained his Palo Alto side to a state championship before heading on to a famous university and NBA fame. His could be the story of any high-flying, US basketball hero. But Lin's ascent has been one of the most unlikely in sport. On Tuesday, Lin helped his team, the New York Knicks, beat the Toronto Raptors with 27 points, 11 assists and a last-second, game-winning three-pointer.

After just five starts – the Knicks have won all five – Lin has become a phenomenon. Before the Raptors game, he had scored 20 plus points in four and a half games including a comic-book hero 38-point showing against the Lakers.

The Taiwanese-American has scored more points in his first five starts than any player in the modern game. On Tuesday he bounced on to the cover of Sports Illustrated. But the reason Lin is a star isn't because of his talent but because his story is one of perseverance against the odds.

The phenomenon has been dubbed – and marketed by the Knicks as – "Linsanity". But it hasn't been easy. Despite having captained his high school to a state championship Lin was snubbed for a scholarship by the top athletic universities. Instead, he headed to Harvard to study economics. While there, Lin set scoring and defensive records, was twice named to the Ivy League team of the year and led the Crimson to a record number of wins.

Still the basketball world wasn't convinced and Lin was left out of the draft system which feeds the top college players into the professional leagues.

After a brief spell at Golden State Warriors Lin was picked up by New York as a back-up in December. His standing was such that just over a week ago, he was sleeping on his dentistry student brother's couch in Manhattan.

Last Monday, by sheer fluke, I went to my first NBA game – the Knicks hosting Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden. This was the beginning of Linsanity – the player's first NBA start. Even as basketball ingénue it was easy to appreciate his talents. Lin was exceptional at feeding his team mates and – if he couldn't – dribbling through to score. His presence was electric. I assumed Lin had starred all season. It wasn't until I failed to buy a Lin T-shirt because they hadn't actually made any that it was explained to me how unknown he was.

They've got shirts now. And the Knicks' management aren't the only ones taking advantage. For a league damaged by 2011's strike, Linsanity is a dream opportunity to open the sport up to new demographics.

After the retirement of Chinese NBA star Yao Ming, Lin could be the perfect opportunity for the NBA to maintain a presence in basketball-mad China. Yesterday, The New York Times reported that a Communist official – hoping to gazump Taiwan – had traced Lin's family back to the city of Jiaxing. The importance of his roots has been debated by fans and pundits alike. Was Lin passed over because of his ethnicity?

Another talking point is his religiosity. It's led to comparisons with the NFL's Tim Tebow, the Denver quarterback who's kneeling to God celebration has made him a hero to US Christians. Like Tebow, Lin has remained humble and stressed the importance of the team. After sinking the Raptors, he told reporters: "It's not because of me, it's because we're coming together as a team." It's perhaps Lin's ordinariness that has made him a hero – but his comic- book style exploits are anything but.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone