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The Linguistics of The Hottest Sensation in Basketball

jeremy lin
worryfree / flickr

We seem to always love a story where an underdog comes out of nowhere to succeed despite the long odds against them.  This explains the popularity of the Rocky movie franchise, the Gold Medal win for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, the unlikely emergence of Tim Tebow for the Denver Broncos, and now the even longer long-shot success story of Jeremy Lin for the New York Knicks – creating a wave of “Linsanity” across the country!

You have been hearing recently of this young 23-year-old basketball player who has gone from nearly being release yet again from a NBA franchise, to suddenly becoming an instant savior for one of the oldest and most endeared franchises in the league.  Suddenly the Knicks are all the rage having won 7 straight games under the guidance of Lin, and without one of the league’s best players in Carmelo Anthony (who has been out with an injury).

Jeremy’s emergence has puns on his last name creating a huge buzz, calling the wave of the New York basketball success “Linsanity”.  The fans are totally feeling it, and the world is hearing about it.  Lin’s story has now got the likes of CNN, FOX News, and other major outlets dedicating time to his story.  To explain this unlikely success story, lets use the linguistics of Jeremy Lin to describe the last week or two:

1)  Call this “Divine Lintervention”

Before Jeremy entered the lineup for the Knicks, there were rumors that the team’s head coach Mike D’Antoni may be fired for the team’s 8-15 start to this season.  Lin’s entry into the lineup may have been desperation on the coaches part, but the 2nd year point guard just saved D’Antoni with this streak.  This has been good for the NBA — New York’s success usually high ratings when they are on national games for ABC or ESPN, and Lin being Asian American makes him a potential global star.  The NBA hopes to take the league more universal in the future, and a player like Lin of Taiwanese dissent only enhances his story, plus creates a huge buzz in a city with a large Asian population.

2) His story is “Linconceivable”

Jeremy may have been the only one who could believe he could make it in the NBA, but his dream was dying.  Word was that this Harvard grad was considering going back to school for graduate work in business.  Yes, this guy is a very smart man, and showed skills in college playing for the Crimson – he averaged over 17 points a game in his junior and senior seasons, along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists a game.  Not many players from the Ivy League (known more for academics) make a mark in the NBA, and Lin was on that path until the last 7 games – averaging over 24 points a game, along with 9 assists and over 4 rebounds.’

3) The team’s that passed on Jeremy now look “Linept”

The Golden State Warriors had him last year and played him less that 300 minutes over 29 games, scoring a total of 76 points in that span while shooting with 39% success along with 42 assists.  He was released after last season, was picked up by the Houston Rockets and was only there for 2 weeks in December. Let’s remember one other point – every team in the NBA had to chance to draft him 2 years ago, and every team passed!  The Knicks have redeemed themselves just by giving this guy a legitimate chance, which has seen Lin score 171 points over this 7 game stretch, shooting with 52% success (63-123) with 64 assists.

4) His teammates are totally “Lin-Sync”

Jeremy has made his teammates better during this time.  Jared Jeffries has been a career back-up player known for defense – suddenly he has averaged over 8 points a game during this recent stretch (which is 3 points higher than his career average) and has shown a bounce in his game that has been missing in recent years.  Billy Walker has also scored about 3 points higher that his career average during the 7-game winning streak, career back-up player Steve Novak has averaged 12 points a game during the win streak (8 points higher than his career scoring average), and Tyson Chandler has scored 5 points higher than his career average (at 13.6 points).  When players feel the talent of Jeremy Lin, it creates another term…….

5) “Lintangibles”

Lin admits he did not see this kind of success coming his way, but he has a confidence that feeds onto his teammates.  They showed that confidence in him when they cleared out for him to connect on the winning shot against the Toronto Raptors earlier this week.  He is humble with the press, always praising his teammates, his coach, and always believing he can be better (like cutting down turnovers).  He Has a Tim Tebow type of quality of him, which makes him very likable.

The wave of “Linsanity” has Jeremy’s #17 jersey selling at record rates, increasing the team’s sales on-line increase by a whopping 3000%, plus the league will showcase his talent at the All-Star Weekend festivities.  Life for Jeremy has changed, and this wave he is in may not last forever, but he seems grounded enough to appreciate this moment for what it is.  Jeremy is a “Linspiration” for everyone to believe that if you work hard and beleive you can succeed – all the more reason to root for him and be swept by “Linsanity”!

 

 

 

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