Published November 20, 2014
The New York Knicks coach calls him "Linderella."
Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin arrived on Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre with the Knicks, who are riding a five-game winning streak thanks to the former Harvard player.
Jeremy Lin peered from a podium at more than 75 journalists and 16 cameras at a news conference. Lin, who's averaged 27 points and eight assists in his first four starts, says even he's amazed by the numbers.
"I don't think anybody expected this to happen the way it happened," said Lin, helped carry the Knicks with stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire sidelined.
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's search for a point guard had been frustrated by injury and poor performances since waiving Chauncey Billups. He's dubbed called Lin's story "Linderella."
"He's an underdog who came on, does it right, the right way," D'Antoni said. "Probably the biggest point is to be able to step on national TV with all the scrutiny, Madison Square Garden against the Lakers, against Kobe (Bryant) and produce what he did.
"To me that's remarkable, it's unbelievable that he could do that in that game."
Linsanity is sweeping Toronto, with the Knicks-Raptors game projected to be a sellout. Raptors officials said they had handed out about 75 additional media credentials. They had to turn down requests from journalists to cover Lin on Tuesday morning to prevent overcrowding.
Lin, the NBA's first American-born player of Asian heritage, will have more than 25 Chinese journalists covering him from the Toronto area. The undrafted Lin was passed over by several teams including the Raptors, then cut by Golden State and Houston.
Lin, who will make $789,000 this season, helped the Minnesota Timberwolves draw their largest crowd since 2004 on Saturday.
The unassuming guard was asked if it's difficult to focus on basketball with all the distractions.
"I try to just not pay attention to it as much as possible, spending a lot of time with my family and friends in my free time," Lin said. "When I'm with the team we stay focused, and we know what we have to do. And then just staying in my Bible, basically."
Lin's story is so inspirational, Hollywood writers could not craft a better script, said Raptors coach Dwane Casey.
"In the biggest market in the world, in New York, he becomes an overnight sensation," Casey said. "You go from being in the D-League on waiver wire, getting picked and now he's a starter on one of the prime teams, historical teams in the NBA."
Both Casey and D'Antoni insist Lin is the real deal.
"You can't say he's a flash in the pan, he's done it for five games, against some quality teams," Casey said. "He's taking advantage of his opportunity, and that's what you tell players all the time, be ready when your number is called, and he's done that."
Lin has already had a huge impact on Chinese fans, becoming that country's most popular player since Yao Ming. A Chinese journalist presented Lin with a book of "Year of the Dragon" stamps from Canada Post.
"I know you are a dragon, so this is for you, from the heart of Canadian fans," she said.
She asked him to say something in Mandarin to children who look up to him, and he obliged before translating for English reporters: "I just said thank you to everyone for watching us play basketball."
"My whole thing as I try to live my life is have fun, explore your opportunities, your dreams, find something you're passionate about, and then just go after it," Lin said. "And I think that's true for kids whether they play basketball, or they want to do whatever they want to do. So, hopefully, I can be an inspiration to them."